The Power Dodge Estevan Bruins have won the SJHL’s Viterra Division title for a third consecutive season despite falling 4-3 in overtime to the Weyburn Red Wings on Friday night.
The Bruins entered play needing either a win or for the Yorkton Terriers to lose against the Melville Millionaires on March 1st to wrap up the division crown and the 3rd place seed in the standings. While it would end up that Yorkton did lose (6-2 to Melville), the Bruins were still looking to clinch the division with a win.
It started out well for the visitors in Weyburn as Will Koop opened the scoring just 1:06 into the 1st period by sniping his 11th of the season past Weyburn’s Cody Levesque to make it 1-0. Michael McChesney and Devan Harrison assisted on the goal.
Weyburn would answer back later in the 1st period with a pair of goals 16 seconds apart. First, Ben Hiltz deflected home a shot to tie the game at 1-1 at 8:39 and on the next shift Drew Anderson scored to make it 2-1 at 8:55 for Weyburn in the blink of an eye.
But that lead would only last less than two minutes as, after Cody Davis forced a poor defensive pass off the side of the Red Wing net, Tyson Manz capitalized by firing his 4th of the season into the back of the net to make it 2-2 at the 10:32 mark.
It remained tied entering the 2nd period and for the majority of the middle frame as well before Weyburn retook the lead. Jacob Piller beat Estevan goaltender Grant Boldt with a shot at the 16:33 mark to make it 3-2 for the Red Wings heading into the final period.
The Bruins would earn many high quality chances in the 3rd period but were unable to beat Levesque until the dying seconds. That’s when, with the goalie pulled for the extra attacker, the puck found it’s way to the point for Jake Heerspink after a mad scramble in the crease. Instead of shooting into the crowd, the Bruins captain alertly fired a shot-pass to the side of the net to a wide open Koop who made no mistake for his second of the game and 12th of the season to tie the game at 3-3 with only 47 seconds remaining in regulation.
The game would head to overtime with each team earning a crucial point. Each team would get a few chances in the extra frame before the game winning goal.
A clear 2-on-1 opportunity for Estevan was thwarted when Dawson McKenzie grabbed Harrison’s stick out of his hands and threw it away from the Bruins defenceman. The rush went up the ice for Estevan where a cross-ice pass from Bryce Platt to McChesney was knocked away by the defending Drew Anderson who tracked the loose puck down. Anderson then fired a stretch pass to a streaking Ben Hiltz who got behind Harrison at the Bruins blueline. Hiltz, offside by more than a foot, controlled the pass and broke in alone, beating Boldt with a deke five-hole for the overtime winner.
For Weyburn, it’s their third consecutive victory as they remain tied with Melville (42 points) for the final playoff spot. The Millionaires will likely be more upset with the missed offside call than anyone, as each team has two games remaining but Weyburn has the tiebreaker with one more win in regulation or overtime (17 ROW for Weyburn, 16 ROW for Melville).
Grant Boldt (29/33) was solid for the Bruins in net, making his first start since a 4-3 win over Flin Flon on February 15th. Cody Levesque (41/44) was outstanding in goal in earning the win for Weyburn.
Estevan went (0/2) on the powerplay, while Weyburn did not earn a powerplay in the game. In fact, the Bruins did not take a single penalty in the game for the first time all season.
876 fans attended the game at Crescent Point Place in Weyburn, with roughly 175-200 of them cheering for the Power Dodge Estevan Bruins.
The Viterra Division champions will face the 6th-seed in the quarterfinal round of the SJHL playoffs, beginning on March 15th & 16th in Estevan. The 6th-seed is still not determined, but will be one of the Battlefords North Stars, Kindersley Klippers or Humboldt Broncos.
The Bruins (30-22-3-2) will conclude their regular season on Saturday night at home in a rematch against Weyburn (18-32-5-1). The largest crowd of the season is expected on ‘Ticket Redemption Night’, which includes a Certified Energy Services 50/50 guaranteed take-home prize of $5,000. The night will also be highlighted by the annual ‘Live Jersey Auction’ during the 1st and 2nd intermission of the game.
The Bruins Swarm To Celebrate Will Koop’s Game-Tying Goal With 47 Seconds Left In The 3rd Period.