Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

10 Years Ago: Bruins Open Affinity Place With Win Over Melville

Derek Tendler leads the Bruins out of the tunnel on opening night.

It was exactly ten years ago to the day that the doors of Spectra Place (now Affinity Place) opened for Estevan Bruins’ hockey for the first time.

On September 17th, 2011, thousands of Bruins’ fans filled the building as the hometown team christened their new arena with an 8-4 victory over the Melville Millionaires on opening night.

Here is the article written by the Estevan Mercury recapping the game that night:

Bruins christen Spectra Place with high-flying win over Melville

Calder Neufeld scored twice, including the first regular season goal in Spectra Place, to lead the Estevan Bruins to an 8-4 victory over the Melville Millionaires in their season opener Saturday night.

It was the first game for the new arena and the Bruins managed to fight off the distractions, including a spectacular pre-game ceremony.

“The last two days are not normally the way you would go about preparing for any hockey game, ever,” said head coach Keith Cassidy, who earned his first SJHL win. “We had guys down doing public appearances today before the game, we had public appearances yesterday. That doesn’t lend itself to having easily distracted junior hockey players focus on a hockey game.”

Still, the Bruins opened the scoring less than three minutes in on Neufeld’s historic marker and didn’t look back, building a 3-2 lead after the first period and extending it to 5-2 after the second.

“It was something else to get that first goal in the new Spectra Place. The crowd was amazing tonight and they really started the game off on a good note,” said Neufeld.

Ryan Ostertag, Matt Dochylo, Cole Olson, Chris Daniels, Tanner Froese and Taylor Reich, the latter two scoring their first SJHL goals, had the other tallies for Estevan.

Michael Desjarlais, Roger Tagoona, Ian McNulty and Colin Mospanchuk had the Melville goals.

Derek Tendler stopped 25 of 29 shots for the Bruins; Melville’s Alex Sirard turned aside 29 of 37 in a losing cause.

Ray Frehlick drops the ceremonial opening faceoff for the first game.


Before Affinity Place opened, the Bruins’ played for 54 seasons at the Civic Auditorium in Estevan. The old barn played host to countless memories, multiple league championship teams, and was known as one of the most intimidating buildings for visiting teams to play in. But in the mid-2000’s, key members of the community undertook the initiative to begin fundraising for a brand new, state-of-the-art, junior hockey arena to ensure the future success of the franchise.

After years of fundraising, construction of the building began late in the decade and was completed in early 2011. The Bruins finished their final year in the Civic with an average attendance of 647 fans/game, which was 7th overall in the SJHL. The Bruins would finish their inaugural season in Affinity Place with an average attendance of 1,102/game, 1st overall in the league. Since the opening of Affinity Place, the Estevan Bruins have finished tops in attendance numbers 6 out of 9 seasons, only finishing 2nd overall in 2013-14, 2014-15, and 2017-18.

A sold out crowd celebrates Will Koop’s goal during Game 7 of the 2018 quarterfinal vs Humboldt.

The opening of Affinity Place has also allowed the Estevan Bruins to host major events, starting with the Western Canada Cup in 2015-16 and following up with the hosting of the 2022 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Horton’s, at the end of the upcoming season.

You can get tickets to enjoy Estevan Bruins’ home games at Affinity Place for the 2021-22 season online, FOLLOW THIS LINK TO BUY TICKETS.