The Prince Albert Northern Bears didn’t get off to the start they wanted to, as they fell 5-2 to the Regina Avana Rebels in Esso Cup preliminary action on Wednesday night.
Northern Bears head coach Steve Young says Prince Albert did not play aggressive enough early in the game.
“I thought we played with too much caution. We knew what we had to do against this hockey club and I think we were way too cautious in the first period and gave them too much time and space. You give this team time and space and they know what to do.”
Regina would have a good opportunity to open the scoring as Greta Henderson, who had 36 goals in the regular season, had a clean breakaway but Annika Neufeld would make the save to keep the game scoreless.
Neufeld says making that save early helped her build confidence.
“It was pretty important. For a goalie to build confidence throughout the game is key to success.”
Henderson would open the scoring for the Rebels finding a loose puck in the crease and firing it into the back of the net at the 7:42 mark of the first period. Ashley Grice and Addison Greve had assists on the play.
Regina would dominate the shot clock in the first period 20-1.
The Rebels would double the lead at the 11:09 mark of the second period as an Amber Daley wrist shot would sneak through the pads of Neufeld.
Greta Henderson would strike for her second goal of the night putting home a rebound at the 18:43 mark. Grice and Greve both got their second points of the night with assists on the play.
Despite only having eight shots on goal through 40 minutes, the Northern Bears had some good scoring opportunities they would not convert on.
Young says the Bears did a good job of staying in the game.
“We can’t complain about the chances we’ve had. We can complain about us not putting them in the net. Late in one period we had a chance. Even with the shots being high to low, we had the chance to stay in the game with the chances we had.
Kassie Ferster would get Prince Albert within two 5:12 into the third period as she would snap a rebound past Chloe Sorenson for the Bears first goal. Jasmine Kohl and Julia Cey would assist on the play.
Berlin Lolacher would reply for Regina just sixteen seconds later on the power play to restore the three goal Rebel advantage at 4-1. Her goal was unassisted.
Lolacher would add her second unassisted goal of the period at the 8:20 mark.
Prince Albert would respond at the 10:05 mark as Kinley Brassard would strike for her second goal of the tournament. Beau Chisholm and Kelsey Ledoux assisted on the play.
A scary incident brought the crowd at the Art Hauser Centre to silence later in the third period. After a hit from behind, Regina forward Makayla Peters would be stretchered off. Peters demonstrated movement in her upper body and received thunderous applause from both Prince Albert and Regina fans as she was taken off the ice.
Wednesday was the fourth game for Prince Albert in the last four days. During league play, the Bears average two games a week played on the weekends.
Young says the Bears have answered the challenge that the Esso Cup schedule presents.
“We’ve done well. We’ve been ready for it. Probably the biggest thing we did on our time off was make sure our conditioning was good because that was one thing we could control. We feel we are good to go that way.”
Annika Neufeld made 48 saves on 53 shots in goal for Prince Albert.
She says she wasn’t too focused on the amount of shots she faced during the game.
“Honestly, I didn’t think too much about it. I stayed focused on where the puck was and it went from there.”
Prince Albert returns to action on Thursday night when they take on the Stoney Creek Sabres in the final game of Esso Cup preliminary action.