Bears lose 3-2 to Hounds in thrilling overtime contest

Sasha Malenfant celebrates after scoring the game’s opening goal Saturday afternoon at the Art Hauser Centre. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Northern Bears played their longest game of the season on Saturday against the Notre Dame Hounds, but fell 3-2 in a game that needed two overtime periods. A full 60 minutes plus a 5 minute four on four overtime wasn’t enough, as the two teams needed three on three overtime to find a winner. In the end, it was Kyra Anderson finding the back of the net for the Hounds, securing the comeback win.

Bears head coach Jeff Willoughby said despite the loss, there was a lot to take away from Saturday’s game.

“There was more of a compete level,” Willoughby said. “We took a lot more time and space away and had the puck a lot more. Everything was better in our game today and it showed.”

The Hounds controlled much of the first period, hemming the Bears end for most of the opening frame, but Paige Fischer shut the door on every shot thrown her way, making 13 saves in the first.

“She was solid in net,” Willoughby said about Fischer. “She gave us a chance to win the hockey game.”

The Bears came out aggressive to start the second period, and were eventually rewarded for their efforts. With 7:23 to go in the middle frame and the Bears on a powerplay, Sasha Malenfant converted on a pass from Paige Dawson, beating Hounds starter Eva Filippova, breaking the ice in the contest.

“Once our team got that first goal we were excited,” Malenfant said. “It encouraged everyone to step up and work hard.  We’ve been climbing the ladder every game, and I think we’re working our way up. We still have a long way to go,but we’re getting there.”

With 1:21 left in the second the Bears added onto that lead. Erin Kirkland jammed the puck in at the side of the Hounds net, and gave Prince Albert a 2-0 lead into the second intermission. Sophia Zuck got an assist on the play, giving her 12 points in 12 games, leading her team in scoring.

Prince Albert’s two goal edge lasted until the 4:07 mark of the third period, when the Hounds found their first goal of the afternoon with a powerplay goal of their own. Keana McKibbin made no mistake on a pass from teammate Ellie Gauvin, and beat Fischer to cut the Bears lead to 2-1.

Notre Dame wasn’t quite finished, as with 5:13 left in regulation and the Hounds on another powerplay, it was Amy Dvernichuk beating Fischer, tying the game at 2-2. That’s how regulation would end, as these teams would need four on four overtime.

In the extra frame, both teams saw great chances to end the game, but both goalies stood tall in net, sending the game to a second overtime, this time a three on three. Malenfant said there was a level of nervousness on the bench for overtime, but pointed out how her team responded.

“We were a bit nervous,” she said. “But it was better when the coaches got a little riled up, because that makes us want to score, and encourages us. We all have the same goal in the end to win as a team.”

In the final minute of overtime, the Bears couldn’t quite clear the puck out of their own end, and Anderson sealed the deal, completing the comeback and sending Notre Dame home with the victory.

Fischer made 38 saves on 41 shots in the loss, and Malenfant was quick to speak about her netminder’s play.

“Paige was incredible. She can stand her ground in the net. We’re not going to have our heads down, because we played a hell of a game. Next weekend we’re going to go back out there and get it done.”

Next up for Prince Albert is a pair of meetings with the Weyburn Gold Wings at home next weekend. Willoughby explained how nice it is to finally have the chance to spend some time at home.

“We finally get to play in our rink here for a bit,” he said. “We’ve been on the road to start the season a lot these first couple of months. We’re positive, and building every part of our game moving forward, and we’re looking forward to next weekend.”

The Bears have played one game against the Gold Wings this season, winning 5-1 on Oct. 30, and have a chance to pick up six more points next Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday’s puck drop is at 7pm.