Northern Bears down Battlefords in pre-season opener

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. The Prince Albert Northern Bears celebrate a goal during pre-season action Sunday afternoon at the Art Hauser Centre.

The Prince Albert Mann-Northway Northern Bears kicked off their pre-season on the right foot with a 3-1 win over the Battlefords Sharks at the Art Hauser Centre on Sunday afternoon.

Northern Bears head coach Steve Young says Prince Albert played a strong team game early in the season.

“I think it was good for our girls to play a game here this early. I think it’s important as you’re teaching, as coaches, it’s easier for them to understand that when you play the opposition how more exact you have to be. I think it’s good that way, there are some things we have to work on for sure.”

Despite being outshot early in the game, it would be Prince Albert that would open the scoring. Tristyn Endicott would sneak a shot that would get though Sharks netminder Mackenzie Seth and barely cross the goal line. Emery Rogers and Maci Nowosad assisted on the play.

Battlefords would outshoot the Bears 15-2 in the first period.

Julia Cey would double the lead for the Northern Bears just 4:38 into the second period with her first goal of the pre-season. Marly Dumanski and Mikiya Anderson would assist on the play.

Sunday marked the first game for several players in the Prince Albert lineup making their debut for the Northern Bears. Young says the new additions have been a pleasure to coach so far.

“I was happy with everyone, they’re attentive, They’re working hard and doing the things that we want them to do. For where we are in the season right now, I think there’s a lot of positives.”

Battlefords would have a prime opportunity to get on the scoreboard in the second period after Emery Rogers drew a double minor for head contact and Raelyn Vezeau would be called for a two minute minor, giving the Sharks a lengthy 5-on-3 power play opportunity.

However, the Bear penalty kill stood strong not allowing a goal all game long.

Young says the unit executed exceptionally well with the limited practice time the Bears have had so far.

“I thought it was good. We haven’t really touched on it a lot. We just kind of put players out there that, we kind of described on the board what we wanted them to do. I thought they went out there and did it. They did a good job getting their sticks and bodies in lanes.”

Netminder Annika Neufeldt stood tall in the net for Prince Albert to earn the win. Young says she has shown significant improvement over the off-season.

“She knew over the summer that she had to take the step forward and have some growth in her game. I thought she demonstrated that today. I think for her, she’s someone that we believe in as well as our other goalie Nikita (Krayetski), they’re both big goalies that have to play a big game. To start like that for Annika is very big for her.”

The Bears continue the pre-season when they travel to Portage La Prairie, Manitoba for a pre-season tournament this coming weekend. They will open the regular season on Sept. 30 when they welcome the Weyburn Gold Wings to the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drops at 7 p.m.