Rough run for Bears continues after Hounds sweep weekend series in Wilcox

Daily Herald File Photo Notre Dame Hounds forward Claire Nimegeers controls the puck while Prince Albert Northern Bears blueliner Jessie Herner chases after her at the Art Hauser Centre earlier this season.

An off week couldn’t come a better time for the Prince Albert Northern Bears.

The 2020 Esso Cup hosts have lost their last seven Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League contests, with their most recent setbacks coming over the weekend in 2-1 affairs against the Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox.

“I like our five-on-five play and we’re getting chances, but we’ve got be hungrier in finding those rebounds,” Bears head coach Jeff Willoughby said.

“If you look at the first goal Notre dame scored on Sunday, they had three or four attempts on rebounds and they didn’t quit until the puck went in the net. We’re getting those same opportunities but we’re not getting the same results. If we do that, I’m sure we will have the same success that other teams are having right now.”

Although the Bears’ goal-scoring woes continued, their netminding was stellar over the weekend.

Janae Neufeld stopped 28 shots in Saturday’s overtime loss, while Dani Day made 21 saves the following afternoon.

“We’re really happy with how they played in both games,” Willoughby said. “They gave us a chance to win and you can definitely put a check mark next to them with their performances over the weekend.”

Kiara Stewart had the lone goal on Saturday for the Bears, while McKenzie Mayo lit the lamp on Sunday.

“I thought the games were fairly similar for the most part,” Willoughby said. “We jumped out to an early lead on Saturday, but instead of playing for the second goal, we were nursing that one goal lead and the Hounds managed to tie it up in the third and get the winner in overtime.

“We fell behind 2-0 on Sunday and we pulled the goalie to get within one. Then we put some good pressure on the Hounds once again when we pulled our goalie again and we had a point-blank chance with a few seconds to go that went off their goalie’s shoulder.”

Claire Nimegeers was the overtime hero for the hosts on Saturday, while Madison Morris also scored and Eva Fillipova stopped 20 shots.

The Hounds, who improved to 13-11-2 over the weekend and are now in third place in the SFMAAAHL standings, got goals from Kas Kingston and Kaitlyn Gilroy on Sunday along with a 24-save performance by Rayanne McKenzie.

The 11-13-2 Bears, who have slipped to fifth in the league table, will return to action on Saturday, Feb. 29 and Sunday, March 1 for a pair of road contests with the Battlefords Sharks.

In other news, the Bears will be hosting their 2020 Spring Camp on May 2 and 3 at the Art Hauser Centre.

For more information, contact Jeff Willoughby at 306-961-3732 or via e-mail at jeff.w@sasktel.net.