Bears looking to bounce back from tough road trip

Daily Herald File Photo Prince Albert Northern Bears blueliner McKenzie Mayo controls the puck while being chased by Notre Dame Hounds forward Ryann Perrett during a game at the Art Hauser Centre last month.

Esso Cup hosts competing at the Mandi Schwartz Memorial Tournament this weekend

Even though the team is currently mired in a five-game losing skid, the Prince Albert Northern Bears are hoping to use this past weekend’s three-game road swing as a turning point for the rest of the campaign.

After dropping a 4-2 decision to the Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox on Friday, the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League side suffered 4-1 and 6-0 setbacks to the league-leading Regina Rebels on Saturday and Sunday.

“We learned a lot about ourselves during this last weekend and there are some good teaching points that we went over during our practice on Tuesday,” Bears head coach Jeff Willoughby said. “If there’s such a thing as a good loss…that’s what you can put those games under.

“You need to have a strong compete level and you need to be hungry for the puck against those good teams in this league. If those things don’t happen, you end up with the results that happened over the weekend.”

Kiara Stewart had a goal and an assist in Friday’s loss to the Hounds, which also saw Taylor Leitch find the back of the net and Dani Day turn aside 20 shots.

Kas Kingston had a goal and an assist for the 6-6-1 Hounds, who are tied for fourth place in the standings with the Battlefords Sharks and are only one point behind the Bears.

Kailey Ledoux scored in Saturday’s contest against the Rebels, while Janae Neufeld made 26 and 27 saves respectively for the 7-6 Bears during their two matchups in the provincial capital.

The Rebels, who have an 11-2 record and hold a seven-point advantage over the Swift Current Hurricanes in the standings, received back-to-back three-point showings from Neena Brick.

The 16-year-old forward, who has committed to the NCAA’s Colgate Raiders, leads the league in scoring with 27 points in 12 games.

The Bears will be back in action on Thursday afternoon in Milestone, as they’ll be competing at the 2019 edition of the Mandi Schwartz Memorial Tournament.

“Mandi is someone that our girls continue to look up to with she was able to do in her life,” Willoughby said. “It’s always an honour to be invited to that tournament along with some of the top teams in Western Canada.”

After opening up their round-robin slate against Vancouver Island, the Bears will then take on the Calgary Fire in Wilcox on Friday morning before an afternoon contest with the Rebels in Milestone.

“We don’t know a lot about Vancouver Island, but we had the chance to play Calgary in their tournament back in September,” Willoughby said.

“They beat us 3-1 in a pretty tight-checking game, so we’re looking forward to playing them once again.”