In front of an energetic crowd of 1,300 fans, the Estevan Bruins rang in the new year in style with a well-earned 5-2 victory over the Weyburn Red Wings in the second half of a New Years home-and-home series with the Highway 39 rivals.
The Bruins took the first game with a convincing 7-1 victory two days earlier in Weyburn, however the Red Wings would come forward with a much stronger effort on the road on January 1st.
It would be the Bruins taking charge in the game early, providing constant pressure and outshooting Weyburn 9-0 in the first nine minutes of the game. But Weyburn’s goaltender, Joseph Young, would keep the Bruins at bay during the first half of the period. The final ten minutes would be much more even, but the game would remain scoreless after 20 minutes of play with the Bruins leading 11-3 in shots.
Before the end of the 1st period, there would be a fight featuring Bruins’ rookie forward Griffin Asham-Moroz as he dropped the gloves with Weyburn’s Connor Stephenson with 11 seconds left in the frame. Asham-Moroz handled himself well and landed several blows to Stephenson before earning the takedown.
The first goal of the game would finally come 6:21 into the 2nd period as the Red Wings would break the ice when Jordan Gagnon scored to make it 1-0 for the visitors. But the lead would not last long.
On the Bruins’ second powerplay of the game, they would even the score as just six seconds into the man advantage Devan Harrison’s blast from the point would find the back of the net. Harrison 4th goal of the season, assisted by Jayden Davis and Tanner Manz, would make it 1-1 at the 8:06 mark.
The back-and-forth action continued just under a minute later at the 9:02 mark, when Weyburn forward Liam Rutten would capitalize on a 2-on-1 by beating Keenan Rancier top corner to make it 2-1 for the Red Wings.
The Bruins would respond minutes later at the 12:58 mark when Isaiah Thomas would carry the puck down the boards into the offensive zone and fire a perfect cross-crease pass onto the tape of Tanner Manz, who deflected his 11th goal of the season in to tie the game at 2-2. Kade McMillen also assisted on the goal and the score would remain 2-2 heading into the final period.
The tight-checking battle continued into the 3rd period as neither team could find the go-ahead goal. Midway through the period after Weyburn was unable to score on a powerplay, the Bruins would take advantage of the powerplay to take the lead. Tylor Ludwar would set up Jayden Davis for a one-timer at the top of the circle, and the Bruins’ captain would wire a shot off the waterbottle that erupted the crowd and gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead at the 10:26 mark.
Weyburn would pull the goaltender in the final minutes for the extra attacker in an attempt to tie the game, but the Bruins would both hold off the Red Wings push and get a pair of empty-net insurance markers. First it would be Kade McMillen dodging forecheckers then lifted a shot high in the air, over the head of a pair of Red Wings, and into the open goal to make it 4-2 at the 18:20 mark.
Weyburn would once again pull the goalie but the Bruins would force a turnover in the defensive zone with Tyson Manz firing the puck down the ice for the clincher at the 19:19 mark, making the final score 5-2 for the Bruins.
One game after facing his lowest shot total of the season (20), Rancier would make (17/19) saves for his second straight win while facing minimal offence from Weyburn. Red Wings goaltender Joseph Young (27/30) would be tagged with the loss.
The Bruins powerplay finished (2/3) in the game, as they also scored a pair of powerplay goals in the 7-1 victory two nights earlier. Weyburn (0/4) was unsuccessful on their man advantages on the night.
One of the biggest crowds of the year brought a playoff-like atmosphere to Affinity Place, with a reported 1,291 fans in the stands. The Certified Energy Services 50/50 jackpot exceeded $6,700, easily the largest of the 2019/20 season.
The Bruins (15-17-2-1) will next host the Melville Millionaires (12-19-2-4) on Saturday, January 4th at 7:30pm.