Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Ball heating up again for Bears

Kate Ball leads the Prince Albert Northern Bears in scoring.
    When Kate Ball starts scoring, the Prince Albert Northern Bears start winning.
    The Bears 17-year-old star centre appears to be heating up once again, which bodes well for the powerhouse Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League squad. Last Saturday, Ball had her team’s fifth goal in a 5-2 victory over the Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert.
    When those same two teams met a day later at the Art Hauser Centre, Ball scored twice inside of the first nine minutes of the contest and added a hat trick goal in the third period to help the Bears skate away with convincing 9-1 victory.
    With those efforts, Ball leads the Bears in scoring with eight goals and nine assists for 17 points appearing in 10 of her team’s 12 regular season games. In games where Ball scores a goal, the Bears are a perfect 5-0 this season.
    Ball, who stands 5-foot-5, turned heads as a 15-year-old rookie in 2016-17 finishing second in team scoring piling up 15 goals and 15 assists appearing in all 28 of the Bears regular season games. The Saskatoon product helped the Bears win their second SFMAAAHL title that season, win a Western regional playdown series and appear in the Esso Cup national championship tournament.
    During the first half of her sophomore season with the Bears, Ball committed to play for her hometown University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team for the start of the 2019-20 U Sports season.
Bears C Kate Ball battles Wildcats C Taylor Lind for a draw.
    Ball’s commitment was a big one for the Huskies to land, as they managed to keep a skilled local product from venturing down to the National Collegiate Athletic Association ranks in the United States.
    Coming off a standout rookie campaign and having made a commitment to a post-secondary team, the Bears opponents started to key more on Ball.
    Having great vision and creativity on the ice, Ball piled up 18 assists appearing in all of the Bears 28 regular season games in 2017-18. Her goal total slipped to seven playing against tighter checking.
    During the off-season, it appears Ball took her training up a notch. In her third SFMAAAHL campaign, she appears faster and stronger than she ever has before.
    She is finding her spots to show off her accurate shot, which has allowed her to surpass her goal total from a season ago. At the moment, she is on pace to set new career highs in all statistical categories.
    To coincide with Ball’s production, the Bears as a team seem to be hitting stride as all four of their forward lines seemed to be in top gear against the Wildcats.
Goal celebrations have been frequent for Kate Ball this season.
    Winger Miranda Heidt had a goal and two assists in Sunday’s win, while defender Tobi Fontaine and forwards Alli Soyko and Paris Oleksyn each had a goal and an assist.
    Jadyn Kushniruk and Paige Dawson had singles for the Bears.
    Underage 14-year-old rookie netminder Scout Anderson had another big game for the Bears making 29 saves to pick up the win in goal.
    The Bears improved to 7-4-1 with the sweep of the Wildcats to sit alone in third place in the SFMAAAHL with 21 standings points. Prince Albert was 1-4-1 in its previous six games before taking on the Wildcats.
    Maddy McCleary had the lone reply on Sunday for Swift Current. Amaya Giraudier turned away 22 shots taking the setback in net for the Wildcats (3-6-1).
    The Bears return to action this coming Saturday, when they host their archrivals the Saskatoon Stars (12-0) at 5 p.m. at the Art Hauser Centre.

Wildcats’ Lind on verge of many milestones

Taylor Lind is one of the SFMAAAHL’s all-time best players.
    Swift Current Diamond Energy Wildcats centre Taylor Lind will go down as one of the best players the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League has ever seen.
    The 16-year-old product of Shaunavon, Sask., is on the verge of a number of big milestones. When the Wildcats fell 9-1 last Sunday against the Northern Bears in Prince Albert, Lind picked up an assist on Swift Current’s lone goal.
    With that point, the Wildcats captain has piled up 69 goals and 57 assists for 126 points in 65 career regular season games to equal Lauren Zary for seventh on the SFMAAAHL’s all-time scoring list. Zary, who played for the Saskatoon Stars from 2008 to 2012, collected her 126 points on 44 goals and 82 assists in 103 career regular season games.
    Of course, Lind, who stands 5-foot-7, needs to collect one more point to sit alone in seventh spot on the SFMAAAHL’s all-time scoring list. She needs to score one more goal to become just the fifth player in the history of the SFMAAAHL to score 70 or more career regular season goals.
    Lind’s 69 goals and 126 points are career regular season records for the Wildcats. She is closing in the Wildcats career regular season assists record of 62 set by Chloe Smith, who played for the team from 2013-2017. Smith is currently playing in her sophomore season with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team in the U Sports ranks.
Taylor Lind is on the verge of a number of scoring milestones.
    In Saturday’s 5-2 to the Northern Bears in Prince Albert, Lind had helpers on both Swift Current goals. She was so good that game that she could have easily had a hat trick and at least another assist had it not been for the stellar play of Bears netminder Lexi Beuker.
    Lind has committed to play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association ranks for the Lindenwood University Lions women’s hockey team in St. Charles, Missouri, for the 2019-2020 season.
    Two of the players in the top six of the SFMAAAHL regular season scoring list are still active. Saskatoon Stars captain Grace Shirley is the SFMAAAHL’s third all-time leading scorer piling up 85 goals and 60 assists for 145 points in 94 career regular season games.
    Stars assistant captain Anna Leschyshyn in the SFMAAAHL’s sixth all-time leading scorer recording 61 goals and 67 assists for 128 points in 99 career regular season games.
    The Wildcats (3-6-1) return to action this coming Saturday, when they host the Notre Dame Hounds (2-5-2) at 7:45 p.m. at the Fairview Arena in Swift Current.

Willoughby nets first professional goal

    Kaitlin Willoughby picked up her first professional goal scoring against one of the top goalies in the world.
    Dressing for her nine regular season game for the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, the Prince Albert, Sask., product, who originally hails from Canwood, Sask., skated hard to the net and drove home a rebound from a shot taken by linemate Louise Warren to give the Inferno a 1-0 lead over the Montreal Canadiennes at the 8:31 mark of the first period. Willoughby’s goal sparked the Inferno out to a 3-0 first period lead, and Calgary would hold on to a 4-2 victory at the WinSport Arena in Calgary.
    Her tally came against Canadiennes netminder Emerance Maschmeyer, who was the goalie partner of the legendary Shannon Szabados on Canada’s senior national women’s team that won silver at the 4 Nations Cup on Nov. 10 in Saskatoon.
    In CWHL action, the 24-year-old Maschmeyer had shutouts in three consecutive games before being beaten by the 23-year-old Willoughby, who is an alumna and former captain of both the Prince Albert Northern Bears female midget AAA team and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team.
    Willoughby, who stands 5-foot-6, concluded her time with the Huskies last season. In five campaigns, she finished as the program’s second all-time leading scorer recording 50 goals and 61 assists for 111 points in 132 regular season games.
    Last August, she was selected in the seventh round and 37th overall in the CWHL Draft by the Inferno. Last September, she attended Canada’s National Women’s Hockey Team’s Fall Festival in Dawson Creek, B.C., along with 58 other players, who were graded to possibly be part of Canada’s senior national women’s team one day. Most of the members of Canada’s senior national women’s team skated in the Fall Festival.
    So far in her rookie season with the Inferno, Willoughby has appeared in all 10 of Calgary’s regular season games collecting one goal, one assist and a plus-two rating in the plus-minus department.
    The Inferno and the Canadiennes met again on Sunday in Calgary with the host side skating to a 3-2 victory. Calgary sits first in the CWHL with a 9-1 record having won nine straight games.
    The Inferno returns to action this coming Saturday hosting the Markham Thunder (6-3-2) at the Max Bell Centre in Calgary.

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