Six players from Bears roster currently committed to post-secondary programs

Daily Herald File Photo Prince Albert Northern Bears blueliner McKenzie Mayo, seen here during a game against the Notre Dame Hounds earlier this season, has committed to the Trinity Western Spartans for next year along with her teammate Brooklyn Anderson.

Esso Cup hosts back home this weekend for tripleheader with Swift Current

The pipeline to U Sports is continuing for the Prince Albert Northern Bears.

As the team gears up for the second half of the 2019-20 Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League season, this year’s Esso Cup currently has six players that have committed to post-secondary programs.

“It’s a nice feeling to see the girls’ hard work paying off and being noticed by the schools,” Bears head coach Jeff Willoughby said.

“At the end of the day, this is why we (the coaches) do the job. We want to help the players move on to the next level and it’s rewarding for everybody.”

The two latest players to commit to a post-secondary program are forward and team captain Brooklyn Anderson, and blueliner MacKenzie Mayo.

The Bears announced last week that the pair will be joining the Trinity Western Spartans in Langley, B.C. for the 2020-21 campaign.

“It feels good to be able to reach that goal and to have one of my teammates there with me for that next step,” Mayo said.

“Everything came together super fast and it just felt like the right fit after we went out to Langley for a quick visit. The thing that stood out the most to me was their coach (Jean Laforest) has he communicated really well with Brooklyn and I.”

Another commitment occurred prior to Christmas as it was announced that forward Paris Oleksyn will join the Saskatchewan Huskies for the 2021-22 season.

Forward Jasper Desmarais and blueliner Jesse Herner will be suiting up for the Huskies next year, while forward Kailee Peppler is slated to join the UBC Thunderbirds in 2021.

“We’ve had a number of girls move on to play for the Huskies in recent years, but we’re starting to see more players head to different schools,” Willoughby said. “Hannah Koral went to UBC a couple of years ago, which opened the door for Kailee, and there are more opportunities for girls to play in U Sports with Trinity Western and Grant McEwan joining Canada West next year.

“Our league is getting better all of the time and I think the schools in Canada and the United States are taking notice. It’s a battle every night that we play and I think that allows the players from all of the teams to improve their games.”

The Bears, who are currently third in the SFMAAAHL standings with a 9-7-1 record, have three games at home this weekend as they’ll take on the 11-1 Swift Current Wildcats.

The Wildcats enter the weekend in second place in the league table and have three games in hand on the 14-0-1 Regina Rebels, who currently hold a 10-point lead in the race for first place.

“They are a tight checking team and they are always working hard,” Willoughby said. “You need to match what they do if you want to have success against him.”

Following a 7 p.m. meeting on Friday, the two sides will square off again at 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

The Bears will then have two weekends off before heading to Swift Current for a pair of games on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Sunday, Jan. 26.