Bears fall to Hounds 6-3 in special teams battle

The Northern Bears celebrate Sophia Zuck's first period goal against the Notre Dame Hounds on Sunday afternoon at the Art Hauser Centre. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Northern Bears and Notre Dame Hounds each scored twice on the man advantage on Sunday afternoon at the Art Hauser Centre, but the Hounds came away with a 6-3 win, completing the two game weekend sweep.

“They’re a constant hockey club,” Bears head coach Steve Young said about the Hounds. “If you don’t play constant against them, you run into trouble. I thought we scored some timely goals to get back to where we needed to be, but (Notre Dame’s) consistency, they were able to play their game.”

Notre Dame jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the contest thanks to goals from Keara Merriman and Ellie Gauvin. Merriman started it off, placing a shot past Brooke Archer low on the blocker side, putting the Hounds up on their first shot of the game. Gauvin quickly followed suit on Notre Dame’s second shot of the game on a powerplay, burying a shot past Archer, who couldn’t slide across in time for the shot. In the opening six minutes of the first period, the Hounds took an early two goal lead.

Sophia Zuck answered for the Bears on the powerplay with 6:45 left in the first, keeping the Bears in the game. Taylor Leitch took a shot from the right wall, and a rebound popped out in front for Prince Albert’s leading scorer. Zuck was able to gather the puck and chip it past Bailey Lindsay for her 10th goal of the season. Trailing in shots 14-5 after the opening 20, Prince Albert went into the first intermission down by a 2-1 score.

Merriman notched her second goal of the game 3:17 into the second period, capitalizing on a turnover in the Bears end. After a failed clearing attempt, Merriman was the beneficiary of a loose puck finding her stick in the low slot. She was able to work her way in alone on Archer, and slipped a shot five hole to put the Hounds up 3-1.

On another powerplay in the second, Notre Dame went up 4-1. Kyra Anderson took a pass in the slot and fired a wrist shot point blank past Archer. On their 20th shot of the game a quarter way through the second period, the Hounds went up by a commanding three goal lead.

The Bears were able to kill off a huge five on three Notre Dame man advantage in the second to prevent any further damage, but the Hounds ended the second period up 4-1, also leading 29-8 in the shot department.

With 12:24 to go in the third, Sasha Malenfant cut into the lead, making it a 4-2 Hounds lead with a backhand shot in front. After Erin Kirkland and Zuck were fighting for the loose puck in the crease, it came in front, where Malenfant was able to track it and jam it home.

The celebration didn’t last long, however, as the Hounds answered back just 11 seconds later. Anderson broke in down the right wing and zipped a shot top corner over Archer’s blocker, immediately silencing the Bears bench making it 5-3.

A powerplay for Prince Albert with 9:29 to go led to captain Paige Dawson burying a shot from the low slot. Pinching in on the play, the defenceman parked herself in front of the net and pounced on the rebound chance. Her shot beat Lindsay five hole for her second goal of the year, as it became a 5-3 Hounds lead.

“We felt it was important for the girls not to sit in the dressing room between the second and third and think about the task at hand which was the third period,” Young said. “I’m proud of the way they out in the effort for the third.”

Alyssa Rasmuson added an empty net marker with two seconds left in the third, as the Hounds avoided a third period scare, coming away with the 6-3 win.

“I thought if we take things in and learn from our mistakes this weekend, it’ll be a big step, and that’s up to the girls and to us to make that step,” Young added.

Prince Albert will hit the road on Tuesday for a meeting with the Saskatoon Stars, who they will also meet in the first round of the playoffs. It will be a potential statement game for the Bears if they can come away with a win.

Puck drop is at 7pm.