Esso Cup send-off

Prince Albert Northern Bears players signed autographs during their rally barbeque outside Cornerstone Co-op on Thursday evening. (Josef Jacobson/Daily Herald)

Northern Bears hold rally barbecue as they set out to Morden, Man. for national championship

The Prince Albert Northern Bears are taking part in their first national championship starting this weekend and head coach Jeff Willoughby says the excitement is rising by the minute.

The 2017 Esso Cup female midget hockey tournament kicks off at the Access Event Centre in Morden, Man. on Sunday and continues through the last week in April.

The national competition brings together the top teams from the Pacific, West, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Regions as well as a host team.

This year the Bears earned the right the represent the West and will face the host Pembina Valley Hawks, Alberta’s St. Albert Slash, Ontario’s Durham West Lightning, Quebec’s Harfangs du Triolet and Prince Edward Island’s Mid-Isle Wildcats.

The Bears are already familiar with the host team and arena, having participated in a preseason tournament in Morden in October, but Willoughby said less is known about the other squads.

“The teams that are farther east I find to be a little harder to get some research on or even video but we like to think that we’ve done our homework with everyone as much as possible,” he said.

For more on this story, please read the Prince Albert Daily Herald¹s subscription-based print or e-editions.


Northern Bears’ Esso Cup schedule:

(All games will be streamed online at Esso Cup website)

Sunday, April 23 at 6 p.m. — Pembina Valley Hawks

Monday, April 24 at 2:30 p.m. — Durham West Lightning

Tuesday, April 25 at 11 a.m. — Mid-Isle Wildcats

Wednesday, April 26 at 11 a.m. — St. Albert Slash

Thursday, April 27 at 2:30 p.m. — Harfangs du Triolet

*Friday, April 28

*Saturday, April 29

*Playoff matchups to be determined