The Estevan Bruins continued their dominant play at both ends of the ice of late on Friday night in Melville, cruising past the Millionaires 5-1 for the team’s 5th straight win.
Valentine’s Day marked the final meeting of the year between the Viterra Division rivals, with Estevan winning 3 of the previous 5 matchups including the last two by a combined score of 11-3.
And in the 1st period, it would be all Estevan as the visiting Bruins outshot Melville 18-3 in the opening frame including the first two goals of the night.
At the 8:20 mark, Alex Von Sprecken would fire a perfect stretch pass to send Erik Boers and Caleb Petrie in on a 2-on-1. Boers kept and shot the puck, then got to the rebound first and batted it towards the net again where Petrie backhanded home his 3rd goal of the year to make it 1-0.
Just minutes later at the 10:32 mark, a beautiful give-and-go by Eddie Gallagher and Dayton Deics made it 2-0 as Gallagher fired a perfect shot top shelf past the blocker of Melville’s Berk Berkeliev.
The Millionaires would get a goal back early in the 2nd period, as Luke Nkwama capitalized on a turnover behind the Estevan net and beat Keenan Rancier to make it 2-1 just 35 seconds into the period. The goal ended Rancier’s shutout streak at exactly 102:00, the first shot to beat the Bruins’ netminder since the 2nd period against Flin Flon on February 8th.
The Bruins would respond rapidly, as just 30 seconds later at the 1:05 mark veteran forward Tyson Manz scored on his own rebound for his 6th goal of the year and 2nd goal in as many games to restore the two-goal lead at 3-1. Griffin Asham-Moroz and Tyler Savage assisted on the goal.
Halfway through the 2nd period, Melville’s Dylan Wells would be given a 5-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct after checking Bruins’ captain Jayden Davis into the Melville post on a scoring chance. Thankfully Davis would be ok and finish the game.
The Bruins would extend their lead to 4-1 before the intermission as Asham-Moroz spotted Harrison sneaking in from the point backdoor and Harrison made no mistake on the perfect pass for his 5th goal of the season. Boers also assisted on the goal as it would remain 4-1 heading into the 3rd and final period.
The final frame was quite uneventful as Melville’s lackluster offence did not muster a strong offensive push in the dying minutes. Melville would pull the goalie with over three minutes remaining in a desperation attempt to get back in the game, but it would be the Bruins finishing off the scoring as Tanner Manz scored his 18th goal of the year into the open net to make it 5-1 at the 17:00 mark. Isaiah Thomas and Jayden Davis assisted on the goal, Manz’s 5th goal in his last 4 games.
The game would end without any funny business, as the Bruins’ skated off with a 5-1 win and officially eliminated the Millionaires from playoff contention.
Keenan Rancier (30/31) earned his 4th consecutive win in net and league-leading 23rd victory of the season. Rancier also played in his 43rd game of the season, passing Matt Gibney (42GP) for the most regular season appearances by a Bruins’ goaltender since 2013/14. Melville’s Berk Berkeliev (38/42) was tagged with the loss.
Neither team was successful on the powerplay in the game, with Estevan (0/2) and Melville (0/3).
With the win, the Bruins (26-21-3-1) extend their lead over Humboldt (22-21-7-2) for the 7th overall seed in the standings to 3 points. Estevan also earned more distance on the 9th place Kindersley Klippers (21-23-6-1), as the Bruins are now 7 points clear with each team only having 7 games remaining.
Looking up the standings, the Bruins are now just 3 points back of 6th place Melfort (25-16-6-3), 4 points back of 5th place Nipawin (28-19-3-1), and 5 points back of 4th place La Ronge (28-19-3-2).
Next action for the Bruins is a 4-game in 5-night road trip up north against the Sherwood Division, the second such trip in less than a month. It starts on Tuesday, Feb. 18th in Melfort and continues to La Ronge (Wednesday), Flin Flon (Friday), and ends in Nipawin (Saturday).