Face-off against breast cancer

The Northern Bears and Prairie Fire pose for a picture prior to their two-game series ---- courtesy of the P.A. Bears

Prince Albert Northern Bears clash with the Melville Prairie Fire in a special two-game series; look forward to Hockey Day in Saskatchewan

Prior to puck drop in game one of what was a big series between two juggernauts of the SMFAAAHL, the Northern Bears and Prairie Fire gathered around for a picture.

It’s not always about just the game of hockey, but rather what the competition brings out of you and your opponent.

This weekend, the two clubs clashed for a great cause. Melville wore their pink jersey’s – as the Northern Bears did a month ago – to help combat breast cancer and raise funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Society.

In the end, they totaled $7,515.

“The rink was decorated in [pink] as well so that kind of brought out some more fans and some more awareness of a good cause,” head coach Jeff Willoughby said.

“The game is the game, and once it’s finished, the most important thing is that players are in it together and both teams raise money for a good cause. In the end, that’s what it’s all about.”

On the ice, the series was split between a pair of shutouts. Prince Albert won the opener 2-0 with goals from Camryn Amundson and Miranda Heidt, but were downed 3-0 during their Sunday contest.

“We’ve been off for about 27 days, since the middle of December. We weren’t really knowing what we were expecting with the effort we’d get,” Willoughby said.

“We were really happy with what we saw. I thought we could have been more rewarded for some goals on Sunday but it just wasn’t the case. Overall, we were happy with the girls’ performance.”

Ryan Fontaine registered her third shutout of the season, pushing her record to 7-3 in her second year of action at the AAA level.

“She’s looking stronger and stronger every game,” Willoughby noted.

“We expect a lot from her and to have that kind of performance on the road when it’s needed for us, that’s the type of performance we are looking for, her to give us a chance to win those tight road games.”

The Northern Bears now look forward to Hockey Day in Saskatchewan where they face off against the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats in two neutral site games. The Shellrook Skating Rink will get a taste of SMFAAAHL action before a trip to Pinehouse the following day.

“I think it’s again, an awareness thing with female hockey. The more you can spread it out, it’s going to be a positive effect,” Willoughby said.

“Every time new fans can see the game, I think it’s just going to make it stronger in the end for female hockey.”

Hockey Day in Saskatchewan runs from Jan. 16-22, beginning with a practice and a family skate with the Prince Albert Raiders.

Representing the country

Donning a silver medal, defenceman Brooke Hobson will make an immediate impact in the locker room following the U18 Women’s Worlds tournament in Czech Republic.

“Just to watch a few bits and pieces of games from the recent competition, she is definitely not out of place there,” Willoughby said.

“She’s a strong player on that team and I hope, when she comes back she is going to have that much more of an effect on her own club team here. I think the game is probably going to be a bit slower for her, which will give her more time to do what she already does so well.”

Canada dropped the gold medal game 3-1 against the United States after skating past Sweden in the semifinals. Hobson opened the scoring for the red and white en route to a 6-2 victory.