Bears forward trio competing for Saskatchewan at Under-18 Nationals

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Paris Oleksyn, left, Jasper Desmarais and Brooklyn Anderson lineup for a face-off during a game against the Lloydminster Steelers at the Art Hauser Centre last month.

In addition to being teammates on the Prince Albert Northern Bears, forwards Brooklyn Anderson, Jasper Desmarais and Paris Oleksyn are now representing the team on a national stage.

The trio are currently playing for Team Saskatchewan at the 2019 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, which got underway on Tuesday and will wrap up on Saturday in Morden and Winkler, Man.

“I think having all three of us there is going to make things a lot more comfortable for us,” Anderson said prior to the tournament. “Plus, it’s great to be able to show what our team is all about at a big event like that.”

“It’s always nice to have representation at the nationals and they are all deserving to be there,” Bears head coach Jeff Willoughby said. “They are going to be some of the best girls in the country there and I think it will be a good test for them, which should only make them better when they return to us after the tournament.”

The team, which opened up it’s tournament slate with a 3-2 triumph over Alberta on Tuesday afternoon in Winkler, is mostly made up of players from the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League and also includes players from prep school programs in Canada and the United States.

“It’s pretty cool play with a bunch of new girls that we are kind of enemies with when we play against each other in the league,” Desmarais joked.

“With the tryout process and the practices that we’ve had over the last couple of months, we’ve really started to bond together and I think that should bode well for us out in Manitoba,” Oleksyn added.

Anderson and Desmarais, who are from Shellbrook and Saskatoon respectively, had tried out for last year’s Under-18 team that went to the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer but missed out making the final roster.

“That really fired both of us up going into this year’s camp, especially when you have to chance to be with all the best players in one place,” Anderson said.

“I know that with our team, especially when you have all of the top talent from each of the teams in our league, everyone is a leader. Everyone’s working hard and trying their best out there.”

For Oleksyn, the trip to Manitoba marks the first time that she’s played on a big stage.

“I’m so excited about having this opportunity,” Oleksyn said. “It’s something I’ve been looking forward to since the roster was set.”

Saskatchewan will be back in action on Wednesday afternoon to face Team Atlantic, before wrapping up their round-robin slate against Ontario Red Thursday.

The top two teams in each pool will advance to the semifinal round on Friday, with the bronze and gold medal games slated for Saturday.

Meanwhile, the 3-0 Bears will resume their league schedule on Friday as they’ll start a three-game series against the Weyburn Gold Wings.