Despite strong defensive play, the Prince Albert Northern Bears couldn’t find the back of the net as they dropped their home opener to the Saskatoon Stars 3-0 in SFU18AAAHL action Saturday afternoon at the Art Hauser Centre.
Northern Bears head coach Steve Young says Prince Albert played well from the initial puck drop.
“I thought we came out and started strong. We worked hard, I think we gained confidence early which is important for the type of team we have. We knew playing a team like Saskatoon that has a lot of skill would be a lot of work and I thought we worked hard here today.”
The Bears were under siege early as Saskatoon had several chances early in the game, but veteran goaltender Brooke Archer stood tall in net for Prince Albert, making 25 saves on 28 shots in the contest.
Young says Archer took the pressure in stride.
“I thought she handled it very well. Brooke is coming here with the attitude that she wants this to be her best year and I thought she handled the game well today.”
The most notable save Archer made on the afternoon was a breakaway save on Saskatoon’s Ireland Stein. After a turnover in the neutral zone, Stein was sprung on an uncontested breakaway.
Archer says her initial reaction wasn’t calm and collected, but she knew exactly what she needed to do in that situation.
“I was kind of scared. I knew I had to be patient. Lots of times, I move before anything happens. I knew to let her make the first and make my move after.”
Saskatoon would open the scoring at the 10:57 mark of the second period as Sage Babey would beat Archer assisted by Kolbee Ashe and Rachel Pavlove.
The Stars got an insurance goal at the 14:57 mark of the third period as Sage Babey got her second of the game unassisted. Saskatoon would add a power play goal with 25 seconds remaining from Avery Bairos.
Prince Albert was held off the scoresheet as Saskatoon goaltender Tora Ward stopped all 26 shots she faced in the contest.
Young says the key for the Bears tomorrow is to create more traffic in front of the net.
“It’s important whoever it is to get the net. You got to create things. We got to get to the net more tomorrow.”
Although the scoresheet didn’t have the results the Bears were hoping for, the team is confident knowing they can play alongside a strong Saskatoon team.
Archer says the Bears know what they need to do in the rematch Sunday.
“I think after today, we know we can stick with them. Tomorrow we have to come in and play confident and keep up the speed and just get pucks on net.”
The Northern Bears are back in action Sunday against the Saskatoon Stars. Puck drops at 1:30pm.