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Home Sports Bears pick up first win in home opener

Bears pick up first win in home opener

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Bears pick up first win in home opener
The Prince Albert Northern Bears celebrate a goal against the Battleford Sharks during their home opener at the Art Hauser Centre on Thursday. -- Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

Some home cooking seems to be all the Prince Albert Northern Bears needed.

The Bears played their first home game of the season at the Art Hauser Centre on Thursday, picking up a 3-1 win against the Battleford Sharks. It was the Bears’ first win of the season after an 0-4 start.

“The girls were excited after this one obviously,” head coach Jeff Willoughby said after the game. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a game at home, about five weeks. It’s been a tough struggle the last few games, and it’s nice to see us come out on the right end tonight.”

The Bears opened the scoring on the power play after a scoreless first period. Julia Cey beat Sharks goalie Emma Backman to put the Bears up 1-0 at 3:21 of the second period.

The Sharks would find an equalizer before the second period ended on a weird play in front of the Bears net, when goalie Brooke Archer mishandled a shot on goal, allowing Brooklyn Siemens to knock it in.

It would remain a tie game until the third period when Calla Kampen broke the deadlock. Kampen fired with a shot past Backman’s blocker just seconds after the Sharks goaltender made the save of the season on a diving stick save.

The Bears bench was excited after taking the lead, something they haven’t been able to do very often this year.

“There’s always a lot of pressure this season,” Bears leading scorer Sophia Zuck said after the game. “We’re pretty new with our rookies, and we just wanted to set our foot out there and know that we’re capable of winning games.”

Prince Albert added an insurance goal with seven minutes left in the third period when Zuck led a 2-on-1 break up the right wing, and sniped a laser shot past Backman’s blocker. The tally gave the Bears their first two goal lead of the season.

The Bears would hold onto the two-goal advantage, even killing off a penalty in the final two minutes of the game to secure the win. Brooke Archer made 19 saves on 20 shots to earn the win for Prince Albert.

Zuck said it felt great to finally pick up that important first win.

“It felt amazing out there,” she said. “The girls were pumped up before the game and I knew all of them were focused and ready to play.”

For Willoughby, playing the first game of the home season was a nice change for his girls.

“They were excited, you could tell,” he said. “For the first ten minutes it might’ve been a little bit of a nervous excitement, but I think they settled in as the game went on. They went after it tonight, and they got a good result.”

The Northern Bears now head back on the road this weekend for a pair of games in Swift Current on Saturday and Sunday. Willoughby hopes his team can carry over the success they had on Thursday.

“We learned a little bit of our identity tonight. We just have to take what we did tonight and instill that in them for this weekend and keep building.”

Puck drop for Saturday’s game in Swift Current is at 7:45.