Bears end lengthy losing streak

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald The Prince Albert Northern Bears, seen here celebrating a win over the Battlefords Sharks at the Art Hauser Centre in November 2019.

Regular season finale this weekend against Saskatoon

The floodgates finally opened for the Prince Albert Northern Bears’ offence this weekend.

The 2020 Esso Cup hosts brought a halt to a seven-game slide with a pair of road triumphs over the Battlefords Sharks, as they skated to 5-2 and 5-1 triumphs on Saturday and Sunday at the Battleford Arena.

“I thought the way that the girls played really resembled how we performed against (the) Notre Dame (Hounds) a couple of weeks ago,” Bears head coach Jeff Willoughby said. “We got a couple of goals early on against the Sharks and that just got the confidence rolling for the girls.

“It’s nice to see them finally get the pucks into the net, as the effort has been there over the last few games.”

The Bears’ special teams also played a big role in their success as they successfully killed off eight penalties on Saturday night.

“You got your penalty kill forwards out there a lot and as a result, some of your top forwards are sitting there watching the game a lot more than usual,” Willoughby said.

“It was a bit of a mountain to climb there, but we were able to do it and I’m proud of how the girls managed that situation.”

Paris Oleksyn led the way for the Bears on Saturday with a pair of goals, while Kailee Peppler dished out two helpers and Brooklyn Anderson had a goal and an assist each.

Rebecca Sochaski and Kiara Stewart also scored for the visitors, who got a 24-save showing from Janae Neufeld.

Jessamy Sundby had the lone goal for the Sharks in Saturday’s contest, which saw Yelena Zaleschuk turn aside 47 shots.

Oleksyn and Lauren Willoughby had a goal and an assist each in Sunday’s rematch, while McKenzie Mayo had two assists.

Anderson, Stewart and Erin Kirkland also lit the lamp and Dani Day made 21 saves.

Ryder Milne and Kolby Haynes both scored for the 9-19-1 Sharks, who are in sixth in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League standings, while Zaleschuk made 40 saves.

The 13-13-2 Bears, who are currently tied for fourth in the league standings with the 12-13-3 Saskatoon Stars on 39 points, still have an outside chance of earning the third overall seed for the playoffs, which get underway next week.

“There’s a game between Notre Dame and Swift Current on Wednesday and if Notre Dame gets any points from that game, then us and Saskatoon will be fighting for fourth and fifth,” Willoughby said. “However, if Swift Current wins, then both of us will still be in the mix for third.”

The Bears and Stars will wrap up their regular season slate against each other at the Art Hauser Centre this weekend.

Their first meeting is set for 5 p.m. Saturday with a rematch slated for 1 p.m. Sunday.