Archer puts in game of the year performance, but Bears’ offense sputters in loss to Rebels

Brooke Archer made 43 saves on 48 shots for the Northern Bears in their 5-1 loss against the Regina Rebels on Saturday afternoon at the Art Hauser Centre. –Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Northern Bears couldn’t rally around goalie Brooke Archer, dropping a 5-1 contest to the Regina Rebels Saturday afternoon at the Art Hauser Centre.

Archer made 43 saves on 48 shots, and unsurprisingly was named player of the game for Prince Albert.

“The games where I get more shots, I feel more in the game,” Archer said after Saturday’s game. “When I face more shots, it’s easy for me to get focused. I like playing in games like this.”

On the other side of the ice, head coach Jeff Willoughby says their offense needs to start producing more goals, even in games against the best teams in the league, like Regina.

“I really liked our energy in our first couple of shifts,” he said. “After that, we chose to let (Regina) outshoot us 14-5 in the third period when we were down a goal. We need to think about that, because we can’t only play 12 or 13 minutes against that team and expect to win.”

The game started off with a ton of stoppages, with five questionable penalties called in the first eight minutes of the game. The door opened for both the Rebels and Bears to find the first goal of the contest, but no goals were scored on any of the ensuing powerplays.

Brooke Archer was tested with shot after shot in the opening frame, making save after save, including a handful of save of the night candidates. Most notably was a breakaway chance shorthanded for the Rebels. It looked like Regina was going to open the scoring as one of their forwards was all alone breaking in, but Archer was able to stick her pad out for a beautiful kick save to keep the game scoreless.

The final minute was the ice breaker in the first period. With 20 seconds left in the opening frame, the Rebels opened the scoring on their 23rd shot on goal. Greta Henderson tipped a point shot in front of the net that beat Archer’s blocker, and Regina finally found the game’s first goal.

They added one more just 10 seconds later, as Megan Hayurst carried a puck down the left wing and poked a shot past Archer and into the net. After looking like the first period was going to end as a 0-0 tie, Regina scored two quick goals to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, leading in shots 24-5.

“I think we just didn’t come prepared,” Archer said. “We started off good, but I think after those penalties in the first, we just kind of broke down altogether as a team, and couldn’t rebuild after that.”

The second period saw more of the same in terms of odd penalty calls. Regina was called for four penalties in the second period compared to zero for Prince Albert. Unlike the first period, the Bears were able to capitalize on a powerplay chance in the final minute of the middle frame.

After cycling the puck around in the Regina end for much of the man advantage, Erin Kirkland struck for Prince Albert with 13 seconds left in the period. Kelsey Ledoux fired a shot that Payton Schlamp made the original save on, but Kirkland was on the doorstep to bang in the rebound top shelf.

With the late goal, Prince Albert climbed back to withing one goal, trailing 2-1 after the second period, despite being heavily outshot 34-11.

Shortly after a Rebels powerplay expired in the third period, Regina scored to restore their two goal lead. Allee Gerrard picked up a loose puck in the high slot and walked in, ripping a shot top shelf past Archer. 5:48 into the third period, the Rebels took a 3-1 lead.

Regina put the game to bed with 7:39 left in the third, when Abigail Manz scored to make it a 4-1 Rebels lead. Hayurst added her second goal of the night on the powerplay five minutes later, as the Rebels took game one of a back to back by a 5-1 final. Schlamp made 15 saves on 16 shots in the win for the Rebels.

“Brooke battled so hard for us tonight,” Willoughby added of his netminder’s play. “I feel bad for her because at the end of the day we didn’t rally around her. She had a hell of a performance for us today, and it could’ve very well been a different score if she didn’t put in the effort she did.”

These two teams are back at it on Sunday for the rematch. Puck drop is at 1:30pm from the Art Hauser Centre.