The defending SJHL Champion Estevan Bruins have officially punched their ticket to the 2023 Playoffs after yet another win on home ice at Affinity Place.
The Bruins welcomed the Yorkton Terriers to town on Saturday night needing a win and a loss of any kind from the Notre Dame Hounds in Battlefords to clinch a spot in the postseason. Though Yorkton has already been eliminated from playoff contention, the Terriers gave the Bruins all they could muster in their final matchup of the year.
Yorkton would open the scoring with the lone goal of the 1st period to lead 1-0 after 20 minutes. The Bruins would tie things up in the 2nd period as Owen Miley scored in his return after missing three games with injury to make it 1-1 after two periods. Cody Davis and Kade Runke assisted on Miley’s 6th goal of the year.
The Bruins would take their first lead of the game just 22 seconds into the 3rd period thanks to a 5-on-3 powerplay, as Jag Phangura one-timed home his 15th of the season from Davis and Aleksa Babic to make it 2-1. Then at the 3:40 mark, Owen Barrow made a nice move past his defender on the rush and backhanded home his 11th goal of the year to extend the lead to 3-1. Sam McPeak and Tim Tychonick assisted on what would become the game-winning goal.
After the Terriers closed the gap to 3-2 midway through the period, the Bruins restored their two-goal lead when Cody Davis rushed in and banged home his own rebound for his 18th goal of the year at the 14:36 mark to make it 4-2. Runke and Garett Zasitko assisted on Davis’ goal, his 7th goal in 7 February games. The Bruins would shut things down the rest of the way and send the crowd of 1,223 home happy with a 4-2 win.
Cam Hrdlicka (35/37) was his usual outstanding self in net for the Bruins, making several big saves especially when Yorkton held control of the play in the 2nd period. It’s Hrdlicka’s 21st win of the season. Caleb Allan (34/38) was tagged with the loss in net for Yorkton.
The Bruins went (1/5) on the powerplay, while shutting down Yorkton who went (0/3) on the man advantage.
About a half hour after the Bruins’ game ended, Notre Dame would end up losing 5-2 in Battlefords. That clinched a playoff berth for Estevan for the 10th consecutive season.
The Bruins (26-21-3-2, 6th/57 PTS) have four games remaining (@ ND, vs ND, vs MLV, @ WEY). Estevan can finish no higher than 6th in the standings and could drop all the way to 8th, with Nipawin (23-22-4-1, 7th/51 PTS) and Weyburn (23-24-2-1, 8th/49PTS) each having six games remaining.
The Bruins will next face Notre Dame (17-25-4-2, 9th/40 PTS) in a home-and-home series starting Thursday, March 2nd at 8pm in Wilcox before returning to Affinity Place next Saturday, March 4th at 7pm.