Imagine sitting near someone in your chemistry or history or French class, perhaps even sharing notes, and then going toe to toe with them in a pair of games in the Saskatchewan U18 AA Hockey League.

That was the case for many student-athletes with the U16 prep and U17 prep teams at the Caronport-based Prairie Hockey Academy, who are playing this season in the league as the Canadian Sport School Hockey League takes a breather.

The U17s won 5-3 Friday and 4-3 Saturday in a pair of games at the Barkman Arena that were kept close by the U16s, but ultimately more than good enough to push the U17s to a 3-0 on the young season. U17s coach Dustin Friesen said he wasn’t surprised the games were as close as they were.

“I think there were moments in both games that the ice was tilted one way or the other,” Friesen said. “It’s a tough game for those guys to play, playing against each other. We’re like a family here. The two teams, it’s about the program. It’s a tough games for those guys to play but I thought they did a pretty good job of it.”

Friday, the U17s jumped out to a 3-1 lead after the first period on goals by Drew Molde, Chase Jocelyn and Davis Hunter. Rowan Calvert replied for the U16s. Brennan Blatz made it 4-1 by the end of the second, but the U16s came storming back on the scoresheet in the third on goals by Clark Furman and Carter Skarbon. Ethan Dekay scored into the empty net to ice the game for the U17s.

Mason Briske stopped 25 or 28 shots in the win, while Austni Seibel saved 32 in the loss.

Then, Saturday, the U17s led 2-0 after the first on goals by Joshua Prebushewski and Carter Price. Brock Stewart and Jacob Booth scored for the U16s in the game, tying it up to the delight of the younger team. Blatz scored 1:39 before the end of the second, and then Molde added another to make it 4-2. Matthew Healey got one back for the U16s with 2:42 left in regulation, causing a mad dash to the end but ultimately the U17s held on. Justin Dueck saved 28 in the win, while Michael Malinowski saved 40 in the loss.

U16s coach Micah Abbott was able to take some things for his team out of the two losses.

“I think the big thing for us is that we’ve got to be disciplined and not take penalties,” said Abbott after Saturday’s tilt. “The second period kind of killed us. They scored two power play goals quickly when we went down short. Five on five, we stayed with them. We battled hard, and the goalie (Malinowski) definitely gave us a chance to win and made big saves for us. I think five on five, it was a pretty even game and pretty exciting.”

While the U16s fall to 1-3 on the season, the U17s are now 3-0.

“I thought we were chasing the puck a lot in the first 35 minutes (Saturday), and then we got that power play at the end of the second, where we really put some pressure on them,” said Friesen. “We just gained some momentum from that. We had a really strong third period. Credit to our guys for improving in the game.”

The schedule sees the U17s taking on the Regina Capitals this weekend, while the U16s will face the Notre Dame U16 prep team.