Heartbreaker: Bears season comes to close with double overtime loss

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Nikita Krayetski made 15 saves for the Prince Albert Northern Bears on Sunday night.

The Prince Albert Northern Bears gave it their all, but they couldn’t stave off elimination as they fell 3-2 to the Notre Dame Hounds in game 2 of their first round Saskatchewan Female Under-18 AAA Hockey League (SFU18AAAHL) playoff series at the Art Hauser Centre on Sunday night.

Northern Bears head coach Steve Young says the team improved significantly from the start of the season and they gave it their all in the loss.

“We did the things that we felt we needed to do. It’s hard any time you play that hard and it’s that close. You know, I think some nights you wish if it was a loss, it’d be a 7-2 loss. Our girls worked hard. I thought from the beginning of the year to now, they’ve really improved as a hockey club and they should compliment themselves for that.”

Prince Albert would strike first with a power play marker from captain Julia Cey with 4:24 remaining in the opening frame. Kinley Brassard and Tristyn Endicott assisted on the play.

Notre Dame would respond with the lone goal of the second period as Eden Carius would pull the Hounds even with 3:28 to go in the middle frame. Kate Williams and Maisie Kozak assisted on the play.

A power play goal would give Notre Dame the lead at the 13:28 mark with Kate Williams giving the Hounds a 2-1 lead. Eden Carius and Sasha Malenfant assisted on the play.

A scary incident would happen near the mid way mark of the third period. Prince Albert netminder Annika Neufeldt would collapse in pain as she was shifting positions in the crease. She would leave the ice with the assistance of teammate Raelyn Vezeau and trainer Christina Schmalz, not putting any weight on her injured leg.

Prince Albert would rally around their injured goaltender as Julia Cey would tie the game on the power play with just 2:59 remaining in regulation. Mikiya Anderson and Elizabeth Udell assisted on the goal.

“That was amazing.” Cey said in a post game interview. “She (Neufeldt) played so good up until that point, and it was a heartbreaking end for her season, but I could not be more proud of Nikita (Krayetski) for how she stepped up, and I just thought everyone really rallied together.”

60 minutes would not be enough to decide the winner and the two sides would head to a 10-minute overtime period.

Notre Dame had the best chance to win it in the first overtime as Eden Carius would deke her way past a Bears defender to get a clean look at the goal. Nikita Krayetski, who replaced Neufeldt after the injury, made a tremendous blocker save to keep the game tied.

Young says he was pleased with the composure that the 16-year-old Krayetski showed in her first career postseason appearance at the U18 AAA level.

“It’s not easy, especially in a close game. Nikita, she knew her role and she knew that if something did happen, she had to come in there. I thought she handled it very well.”

In the double overtime period, Eden Carius would secure the win for the Hounds with her second goal of the night. She would redirect a point shot that would just float over the left shoulder of Krayetski to end the Bears season. Breanna Longley and Spring Mosset earned the assists.

After the handshake and player of the game presentations, a great exhibit of sportsmanship was shown by Notre Dame goaltenders Juliette Gagne-Delauney and Schay Camphaug who skated over to the Prince Albert bench to speak with Neufeldt, who had returned to the bench in her street clothes and on crutches. Neufeldt was named player of the game for Prince Albert.

Juliette Gagne-Delauney earned the win for the Hounds making 37 stops. Annika Neufeldt made 26 saves prior to the injury. Nikita Krayetski would make 15 saves in relief.