The Estevan Bruins put together their greatest 60-minute effort of the season at home on Saturday night, diffusing the Flin Flon Bombers high-flying offence and filling the net themselves in a 6-2 victory at Affinity Place.
Flin Flon took the first two meetings of the season entering Saturday, and with the Bruins looking to secure a playoff spot and perhaps move up the standings, it was going to take a playoff-type mentality to defeat the 2nd overall-ranked Bombers.
The 1st period set the tone for the whole game, with each team exchanging quality chances and hard hits in the opening frame. Then with just over five minutes remaining in the period, the Bruins would strike for a pair of quick goals to take the first lead of the game.
The Bruins worked the puck around the offensive zone up to the blueline where Alex Von Sprecken unleashed a shot that was tipped in front by Erik Boers and past Flin Flon’s Jacob Delorme. Boers’ 2nd goal of the year, from Von Sprecken and Dain Sardelli, gave the Bruins the lead at 14:28.
Then just 21 seconds later, Jayden Davis received a pass just over the blueline and ripped a devastating wrist shot through a Bombers’ defender and top shelf to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead at the 14:49 mark. Davis’ linemates Isaiah Thomas and Tanner Manz assisted on the goal.
Despite some heavy pressure by Flin Flon at the start of the 2nd period, it remained 2-0 until past the midway mark of the frame when the Bruins would extend their lead to 3-0. At the 13:37 mark, Griffin Asham-Moroz would beautifully deflect a point shot by Kersey Reich that eluded Delorme for the standout rookie’s first goal in his last 11 games. Tyler Savage also assisted on the goal.
But only 32 seconds later, the Bombers would finally get on the board as Caleb Franklin finished off a beautiful passing play to make it 3-1 Estevan at the 14:09 mark. The goals would keep on coming, as Troy Hamilton carried the puck in wide with speed creating a 3-on-1. Hamilton passed the puck in front to Savage who waited just long enough and then passed to Asham-Moroz at the side of the net. Asham-Moroz finished the play off at the 16:25 mark for his second goal in less than three minutes to restore a three-goal lead for the Bruins.
But again Flin Flon would respond before the end of the period, as an outstanding individual effort by Tristan Lemyre resulted in the rookie beating Keenan Rancier at the 17:35 mark to make it 4-2 Bruins after 40 minutes.
The Bruins would earn the all-important next goal halfway through the 3rd period just six seconds into their second powerplay of the night. A point shot by Devan Harrison would be deflected in front by Brady Nicholas and while Delorme made the intitial save, Tanner Manz was on the spot to bury the rebound for his 16th of the year to make it 5-2 Bruins at the 10:01 mark.
The Bruins would do their part to hold on to the three goal advantage until the final minutes when Flin Flon would pull their goalie during a Bruins’ penalty for a 6-on-4 advantage. However, it would be the Bruins scoring during the sequence as Thomas made a nice play to get the puck out of his own zone and slap it down the ice. The first man to the loose puck would be Jayden Davis as the Bruins’ captain sped past the Bombers and deposited the puck into the open net for his second goal of the game, a shorthanded goal and his 18th goal of the season, to make it 6-2 at the 17:35 mark. Von Sprecken also added an assist on the play.
That would be all the scoring in the game, but not the end of the fireworks as Kade McMillen and Flin Flon forward Chase Haygarth ended up dropping the mitts for a very brief fight at the 18:47 mark of the period. When the final buzzer rang out, the Bruins’ would be victorious in earning their 3rd straight win.
Keenan Rancier (38/40) was stellar in net all night for Estevan, showcasing why the 19-year-old netminder will be in the conversation for top goaltender in the league at the end of the season. Jacob Delorme (27/32) was tagged with the loss for Flin Flon.
The Bruins (1/2) were successful in minimal powerplay chances, but even more impressive is that the Bruins held the SJHL’s top powerplay from Flin Flon scoreless (0/6) in the game, while adding a shorthanded goal on Davis’ empty-netter.
The win was huge for multiple reasons for the Bruins (24-21-3-1), remaining five points ahead of the Kindersley Klippers (20-23-6-1) for the 8th and final playoff spot. However looking up in the standings, the Bruins are now just 1 point behind the Humboldt Broncos (22-20-7-2) for 7th overall with Estevan holding two games in hand. And the Bruins remaining in striking distance of both home-ice advantage in the quarterfinal round AND the Viterra Division title, trailing the 4th place Yorkton Terriers (28-19-1-1) by only six points in the standings.
Next action for the Bruins is their second-last home game of the regular season, hosting the La Ronge Ice Wolves (26-18-3-2) on Wednesday, February 12th at 7:00pm at Affinity Place. After Wednesday, the Bruins will play 7 straight games away from Estevan before ending the season on Saturday, February 29th at home against the Weyburn Red Wings.