Northern Bears ready for home opener after Portage La Prairie trip

Herald File Photo. The Prince Albert Northern Bears gather around the net before a home exhibition game earlier this season.

The Prince Albert Northern Bears got in their final tune-up before the regular season traveling out to Portage La Prairie, Manitoba for the Central Plains Capitals’ Pre-season Showcase Tournament.

Bears head coach Steve Young says the tournament provided a good test for the team early on.

“As a whole, it was okay. Obviously, you’re playing pre-season, you’re trying different things, but at the same time you’re building for this upcoming weekend. I think as coaches, we want things to get better and happen a lot smoother but that’s the pre-season is for.”

The Bears played a total of four games in three days with one game Friday, two on Saturday and a single game Sunday, posting three losses and a tie.

Young says the condensed schedule was a strong test for the team.

“It was a good challenge, especially playing two on Saturday. You play the morning game and the evening game and not a lot of rest between. So that’s good for the players. With it being a quick tournament, being preseason, we’re okay with that.”

The Bears opened the tournament on Friday night, falling 2-0 to the Winnipeg Avros. On Saturday morning, the Balmoral Hall Blazers prep team handed the Bears a 9-1 defeat. In the nightcap, the Bears fell 2-0 to the Yellowhead Chiefs. On Sunday, the Bears came from behind to tie the Winnipeg Ice 4-4.

Young says the Bears worked hard throughout the entire weekend, even if the results didn’t go in their favour.

“I think the biggest thing was they were always prepared to work. They’re always prepared to listen. They didn’t get down on each other when some of the games didn’t turn out the way we wanted them to. So that’s definitely a positive.”

Throughout the weekend, Young says the Bears grew together as a team.

“I thought as the tournament went on, we started playing more as a team game and understanding how we have to and need to play. I think all the girls were positive about the situation and positive about the team. So that’s good, it’s just a matter of running through everything this week and getting ready for Weyburn on the weekend.”

The Bears will return open their 2023-24 regular season on Saturday, Sept. 30 when they take on the Weyburn Gold Wings. The team will be wearing “Team Bruce” jerseys that will be auctioned off to raise funds for the Victoria Hospital Foundation and the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan. The online auction is currently open and can be found on the Bears Facebook page. Puck drops at 7 p.m.