Northern Bears trio help Saskatchewan make history at Under-18 Nationals

Photo Submitted Prince Albert Northern Bears teammates Jasper Desmarais, left, Brooklyn Anderson and Paris Oleksyn wear their silver medals that they won with Team Saskatchewan at the National Women’s Under-18 Championship last Saturday in Winkler, Man.

Three members of the Prince Albert Northern Bears helped their home province make some history last Saturday.

Jasper Desmarais and Paris Oleksyn of Saskatoon, along with Brooklyn Anderson of Shellbrook, were part of Saskatchewan’s first ever medal winning side at the National Women’s Under-18 Championship as they picked up a silver medal following a 4-1 setback to Ontario Red in Winkler, Man.

“It wasn’t the result that we wanted of course, but knowing that we were part of the first team from our province to win a medal at that tournament is something that we are all proud of,” Anderson said.

“We weren’t one of the expected favourites when the tournament began, but we took that underdog label and ran with it,” Desmarais added. “We all wanted to win so bad and we worked hard every time that we played to get the job done.”

While Anderson and Desmarais have been both involved with Hockey Canada tournaments in the past, this marked the first time that Oleksyn has competed at one of their national events.

“It was easily the greatest opportunity in my hockey career so far,” Oleksyn said. “I had never been a part of anything like that.

“I expected the level of play to be up a little bit from what it’s like here (in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League) but it was even higher than I thought it would be, which made things a lot of fun.”

Anderson also found the back of the net during the tournament and had the game-winning goal during a shootout triumph over Team Atlantic in round-robin play.

The teammates also made it back in time to play with the Northern Bears last Sunday in Weyburn, as Desmarais lit the lamp in a 5-0 road triumph over the Gold Wings.

As the trio gears up for a pair of road games this weekend at the Art Hauser Centre against the Battleford Sharks, they are hoping to take some of the lessons that they learned at the Under-18 Nationals to help their squad prepare for the 2020 Esso Cup in April.

“You definitely gain a lot of confidence when you are at an event like that,” Anderson said. “There’s a certain pace that you need to play at, which is something we’ll tell the girls about.”

“The whole week was a learning experience for us,” Desmarais added. “There are different perspectives that you gain from the new coaches and the teammates that you are with, who you are normally the people you are going up against in league play.”