Northern Bears put in strong effort but fall to Wildcats in a shootout

Paige Fischer makes one of the saves of the game on a Sadie Keller breakaway shot. --Kyle Kosowan/Daily Herald

The Prince Albert Northern Bears scored the game tying goal in the third period, forcing overtime against the Swift Current Wildcats, but ultimately fell 2-1 in a shootout on Friday night at the Art Hauser Centre.

It was a shorthanded performance all game, with Brooklin Fry, Brooke Archer, Erin Kirkland, and Calla Kampen out of the lineup for COVID-19 reasons. Negative tests from the rest of the team prior to the game allowed Prince Albert to play.

“We were happy in a lot of areas tonight,” head coach Jeff Willoughby said. “You never know what you’re going to get right after Christmas in the first game back.”

It was a quick start for the Wildcats, who found the first goal of the game just 31 seconds into the first period. Shelby Rublee dug out a loose puck in front of the net and poked one past Paige Fischer to make it a 1-0 game.

A sloppy first period for the Bears saw them trailing at the intermission, while also falling behind in shots 17-7.

The second was a much different story. The Bears were dominant for most of the period, pouring on shot after shot on Wildcat goalie Karlee Lehner. Despite putting 14 shots on goal in the middle frame, Prince Albert couldn’t find the tying goal, as Swift Current held on to their 1-0 lead into the third.

The Bears continued their offensive pressure from the second period and struck early in the final regulation frame. Kassie Ferster worked her way in from the left wing and fired a shot past Lehner, knotting the game at 1-1.

“I thought our energy level went up a lot after the first period,” Ferster said. “We were a little tired coming in from the break, but we’ll get back into shape here soon.”

Putting 12 more shots on goal in the third period, Prince Albert couldn’t find the late game winner, as for the second game in a row, the Bears went to overtime.

Five minutes of four on four, plus an additional five minutes of three on three saw a lot of action in the Swift Current end, as the Bears continued to lay on the gas pedal. However a bad bounce or timely save kept the game even, sending both teams to the shootout to find the victor.

The first three shooters from each team failed to find the back of the net, setting up fourth round. Kassie Ferster, who had the hot stick for the Bears after scoring the tying goal, was sent out in the fourth round. Unfortunately for Prince Albert, Ferster’s bid was denied by Lehner, and up stepped Ava Metzger for the Wildcats, with a chance to win the game. Metzger worked her way right down Broadway, beating Fischer five hole, winning the game for Swift Current.

Fischer made 40 saves on 41 shots in the loss, while Lehner made 37 stops on 38 shots in a winning effort.

“We look at our shots and we ask ourselves how many of them are the result of second and third chances,” Willoughby said. “We’re getting more people driving the net, which creates those second chances. I think everyone gave a little more tonight than we asked of them, and that resulted in a good game tonight.”

These two teams will have a short rest, before getting right back at it on Saturday at the Art Hauser Centre. Puck drop is at 1:30.