Northern Bears eye strong season as 2023 Esso Cup Hosts

Prince Albert Northern Bears coach Steve Young addresses the team during an exhibition game against Fraser Valley. -- Photo from the Northern Bears Facebook page.

There is plenty to be excited about this season for the Prince Albert Northern Bears of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League (SFU18AAAHL).

The Bears will serve as the host team of 2023 Esso Cup, an event originally scheduled to take place in 2020 that was cancelled due to the pandemic. The team got to play as the host, but a little way from home during the 2022 Esso Cup which took place in Okotoks, Alberta.
Northern Bears head coach Steve Young says he is hopeful the veteran Northern Bear players will pass along advice to the rookies about playing in the Esso Cup.

“I think for the group, it’s really good. For the community, it’s a long time coming. We did gain some experience last year when we were in Okotoks, we got about 10 players that were there. Hopefully during the season, they can relay that to the new players and when we do enter the cup, we are ready and prepared to play.”

Last season, there was a bit of a lull between the end of the regular season and the Esso Cup for the Northern Bears. The Northern Bears were swept in the first round of the SFU18MAAAHL playoffs by the Saskatoon Stars in three games.

Young says the team did well, competing in the Esso Cup after a big break in the middle of the season.

“It was a tough season for the hockey club, there was some adversity they had to work through. Losing out in the first round of the playoffs was tough. We had a big gap because the cup wasn’t until May. The players had to commit themselves to practicing for 5 to 6 weeks, and they did a great job at that.

“When we got to the cup, the teams there were there in a different way then we were, but we were there to compete. I thought the girls did very well.”

The Northern Bears open their season on Sept. 25 on the road against the Battlefords Sharks. The home opener for the Northern Bears will take place on Oct. 1 when the Saskatoon Stars roll into the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drop is at 1:30pm.