Trailing on the road in the 3rd period in hostile territory against the Weyburn Red Wings, the Estevan Bruins finished off one of their gutsiest wins of the season to kick off ‘Parents Weekend’ on Friday night.
Dain Sardelli scored twice, including the tying goal midway through the final frame, and Erik Boers’ first career SJHL goal with less than six minutes remaining vaulted the Bruins to a crucial 4-3 victory at Crescent Point Place in Weyburn.
The Bruins entered play holding the 8th and final playoff spot in the standings with Weyburn needing to start chipping away at some points to keep their fading playoff chances alive.
In front of hundreds of black-and-gold fans in the stands who helped fill the rink, the Bruins came out with a fiery start and kicked off the scoring just 3:29 into the game. The line of Caleb Petrie, Tyson Manz and Sardelli grinded the puck deep in Weyburn’s zone for an extended time, eventually leading to Sardelli coming out of the corner with the puck in space and firing a shot five-hole through Joseph Young to make it 1-0 Estevan. Manz and Petrie both assisted the goal.
Weyburn would respond at the 11:27 mark as Dace Prymak broke in on a partial breakaway and beat Bruins’ starter Randy Cooke to even the score at 1-1. The Red Wings would head to the powerplay for the majority of the rest of the period, but some great saves by Cooke helped keep the score tied entering the intermission.
Weyburn would take the lead at the 5:38 mark of the 2nd period as a quick shot by Jake Misskey eluded Cooke to make it 2-1. But the Bruins would even it up shortly thereafter, as just moments after a powerplay expired, Isaiah Thomas ripped a wrist shot past Young to tie the game at 2-2 at the 11:16 mark. Brady Nicholas and Devan Harrison assisted on Thomas’ 13th goal of the year.
However, the Red Wings would retake the lead heading into the intermission as with only 27 seconds left in the 2nd period, a point shot by Shayde Peterson bounced off a couple bodies in front and past Cooke to make it 3-2 Weyburn after 40 minutes. However the Bruins’ penalty kill had been doing a great job to this point, shutting out Weyburn on 7 opportunities compared to Estevan’s 2 powerplay’s.
The Bruins’ played a hard but disciplined game in the 3rd period, and that led to the comeback effort. After going unsuccessful on back-to-back powerplay chances, Estevan took the lead thanks to a perfect pass from Eddie Gallagher.
Gallagher, was was injured early in the 1st period but returned to the bench for the 2nd and 3rd period, sped down the right wing and fed a perfect saucer pass to a streaking Sardelli driving the net. Sardelli softly deflected the puck five-hole for his second goal of the game and 5th of the season to tie the game at 3-3 at the 8:46 mark. Tylor Ludwar also assisted on the goal.
The Bruins kept the momentum going and turned it into the go-ahead goal just minutes later. At the 14:12 mark, a great shift led to the first career SJHL goal for rookie forward Erik Boers, who was playing in his first game since suffering an injury in the December 30th game in Weyburn.
Gallagher forced a turnover in the offensive zone and backhanded the puck towards the net, where Nicholas knocked it out of midair and slapped it towards the net. Young made the save, but before he could cover up the rebound, Boers smacked home the loose puck to put the Bruins ahead 4-3 with less the six minutes to play.
Weyburn would be awarded a powerplay just seconds after the goal, but once again Cooke and the Bruins’ PK held strong. There was no whistle for the final 3+ minutes of the game, and the Red Wings were unable to find the equalizer with the goalie pulled in the dying seconds. The Bruins held on for a hard-fought 4-3 win in Weyburn, their 4th straight win over the Red Wings.
Randy Cooke (28/31) played his best game of his young SJHL career, earning his second win in as many starts. Joseph Young (34/38) played a solid game in goal for Weyburn.
As mentioned, both powerplay’s were shut out in the game with Estevan (0/3) and Weyburn (0/8).
The two teams will do it all over again on Saturday night, this time at Affinity Place in Estevan. The game begins at 7:30pm with the annual pregame Parents/Billets/Player Introductions and concludes with the annual Calcutta Shootout fundraiser immediately following the game.