Bears sweep aside Sharks

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Rebecca Sochaski of the Prince Albert Northern Bears looks for the puck while being pressured by Jessamy Sundby of the Battlefords Sharks at the Art Hauser Centre Friday night.

The first home games for the Prince Albert Northern Bears since the start of October went according to plan over the weekend.

The 2020 Esso Cup hosts returned to the Art Hauser Centre Friday with a 3-0 shutout of the Battlefords Sharks Friday night and followed that up with a 5-1 triumph Saturday afternoon.

“I think it took us about a period to get our settings right after being away from home for so long,” Bears head coach Jeff Willoughby said. “We got two important goals in the second period on Friday and that put us in the right direction going into Saturday.

“I think our consistency is the highest that it has been all year, especially in our offensive play. There are a couple of things that we can clean up in our defensive play, but those are just little reminders that we can give to the girls.”

Bears netminder Janae Neufeld continued her strong start to the campaign with a 28-save shutout performance on Friday and a 22-save showing Saturday.

The 15-year-old from Duck Lake has a 4-0 record with a 0.60 goals against average, a .975 save percentage and two shutouts.

“We’re all communicating well and we have a lot of chemistry in our defensive zone already,” Neufeld said.

“It definitely takes a little bit for things to come together, especially for me as a new player to the Bears, but the team has done a great job of welcoming me in here.”

Rhea Peterson led the Bears on offence Friday with a pair of goals, while Kailey Ledoux had a goal and an assist.

Paris Oleksyn and McKenzie Mayo each scored a goal and dished out a helper in Saturday’s triumph, which also saw Jessie Herner, Emma Tremblay and Sophia Zuck find the back of the net.

Madison Guitard had the lone goal during the weekend for the Sharks, who are in fourth place in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League with a 4-7 record.

The Bears, who are currently second in the league standings with a 7-1 mark, will be back on home ice this weekend for a pair of games with the Notre Dame Hounds.

Those contests, which will take place at 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday, will mark the first time that the clubs have squared off since the Hounds defeated the Bears in the opening round of the 2019 playoffs.

“Notre Dame’s a pretty similar team to the one that we’ve seen here in recent years,” Willoughby said. “They are a hard working team with a good defensive core and a couple of threats to score.

“If you don’t play the way that you are supposed to…they will take advantage of your mistakes.”