Bears fall in home opener to Weyburn

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Bruce Vance (left) acknowledges the crowd prior to the Northern Bears home opener on Saturday night

The Prince Albert Northern Bears couldn’t find their way in the win column in their home opener falling 5-4 to the Weyburn Gold Wings in overtime.

Head coach Steve Young says he thought the Bears improved throughout the game.

“I thought as the game went on, we got stronger in the way we want to play. I thought we had a lot of chances as the game went on and couldn’t capitalize on them. A lot of good things tonight but you want to make sure you are better for tomorrow’s game.”

There was a movement bigger than hockey in the building on Saturday night as the Bears wore special “Team Bruce” uniforms in honor of former team manager Bruce Vance who is fighting a terminal stage four colon cancer diagnosis.

Money raised from a jersey auction, donations, a jersey raffle and the 50/50 draw were donated to both the Victoria Hospital Foundation and the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan. An exact amount of the money raised was not available as of press time.

Young says it was very special for the Bears to honor Vance, who had previously served as a manager for the team from 2011-2015.

“It was very special. I’ve been fortunate to know Bruce (Vance) for a long time and he is a very special man in the community and in hockey. To honor someone like him is very special and I’m glad there was a good turnout to do so.”

Ayla Klus would open the scoring for the Gold Wings at the 10:17 mark of the first period. Julia Durr and Nola Exner provided helpers on the play.

Captain Julia Cey and the Northern Bear power play would get the team on the board with her first goal of the season at the 9:24 mark. Marly Dumanski and Mikiya Anderson assisted on the goal.

Jade Olszewski would score a pair of goals in the second period for Weyburn to give the Gold Wings a 3-1 lead, one at even strength at 13:37 and the other on the power play at the 5:00 mark. 

Prince Albert would respond in the final minute of the second period as Elizabeth Udell would strike on the power play to cut the deficit to one after forty minutes. Tristyn Endicott and Emery Rogers assisted on the play. 

The Bears would erase the deficit less than two minutes into the third period as Bree Purcell would score her first goal at the U18 AAA level to knot the score at 3-3. Emery Rogers picked up her second helper of the game on the play.

A power play goal from Rori Dickie would give Weyburn a 4-3 at the 10:03 mark. Abigail Manz had the lone assist on the play.

Julia Cey would provide her second power play goal of the night at the 6:51 mark to draw the Bears even at 4-4. Anderson and Rogers assisted on the goal.

After a four-on-four overtime solved nothing, the Bears and Gold Wings would play a five minute three-on-three frame to decide a winner

A Prince Albert turnover at their own blue line would give 17-year-old Hadley Ravenko a breakaway opportunity and she would make no mistake, icing the winner for the Gold Wings.

Nikita Krayetski made 27 saves in the net for the Bears in her U18 AAA debut.

“I thought she was okay.” Young said about Krayetski’s debut.  “A situation arose this week where Annika (Neufeldt) couldn’t go so she knew she was going to be our starter. I think in her game tonight, she probably wanted one back but she made a couple saves that counteracts that. We’re happy for her and she has got to be ready tomorrow.””

 Hailey Sibbald stopped 43 of 47 shots in net for Weyburn

The two teams return to action on Sunday afternoon at the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 1:30 p.m.