Northern Bears return from break with pair of weekend home games

The Northern Bears resume their season on Friday night. --Herald file photo.

After a league wide 19 day Christmas break, the SFU18AAAHL resumes play this weekend, and the Prince Albert Northern Bears will be playing their first game back on Friday night.

They welcome the Swift Current Wildcats to the Art Hauser Centre for two games in a row, both at home on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Prince Albert ended the first half of the season with a 3-2 shootout win over the Saskatoon Stars that catapulted themselves into fifth place in league standings.

Julia Cey led the way offensively, scoring twice in regulation, plus capping the game off with the shootout winner against the Stars. Paige Fischer made 28 saves on 30 shots in regulation and overtime, picking up her fourth win of the season, and the Bears grabbed their fifth overall victory of the 2021-22 campaign.

The Wildcats head into Prince Albert winner of two straight games, both of which came over the last place Weyburn Gold Wings. It will be the third and fourth meetings of the season between Swift Current and Prince Albert, and the last two meetings of the regular season. Both teams split games in Swift Current in October, with the Bears winning 4-2, and the Wildcats winning 8-4 the very next day.

Cey played a big role for the Bears in both games against Swift Current this season, putting up three points in the two games, scoring a goal to go along with a pair of assists.

Not only will the Bears play both of their games at home this weekend, but nine of their 14 games to wrap up the regular season will be played at the Art Hauser Centre as well. After starting the year with 10 games on the road and just six at home, Prince Albert will enjoy some home ice advantage for most of their games in the second half.

For the Wildcats, it’s a different story. Playing 19 games already, the most in the league, Swift Current will play six games on home ice, and travel on the road for five more. With just 11 games left to play and the team sitting second in league standings with a 10-7-2-0 record, they will need to put up a good showing in the second half to hold that second place spot heading into playoffs. The Notre Dame Hounds have played just 13 games this season, but sit in third place in the league, posting an impressive 10-1-1-1 record, and find themselves in a good spot to make a push for top spot in the league by the end of the season.

This weekend will kick off a lengthy month for the Bears, who will play eight games in January after playing just four game in December and November. The Bears also played eight games to start the regular season in October. They will close out the year in February with four games at home and two on the road.

Friday and Saturday’s meetings will be the first and second games of three straight that Prince Albert and Swift Current will play against each other. They will square off for the final time of the regular season on Jan. 15th.

Puck drop on Friday is at 7pm. Saturday’s puck drop is at 1:30 pm.