The Estevan Bruins found their scoring touch in a big way on Wednesday night in Melville, skating away with a convincing 7-1 victory.
With the team missing five regulars in the lineup due to injury, forward Ryan Zaremba and defenceman Jagden Taylor were recalled from the Regina Pat Canadiens for the second consecutive game. And both players contributed to the game’s opening goal.
At the 11:40 mark, Taylor kept the puck in the offensive zone passing down to Sam McPeak who one-touched a pass to Zaremba out front and the rookie scored his first career SJHL goal to make it 1-0 after the 1st period.
The Bruins extended their lead in the 2nd period thanks to the red-hot stick of Cody Davis. First at 8:08, Davis finished off a pretty passing play from Kade Runke and Garett Zasitko to make it 2-0. Then just minutes later at 11:25, Davis batted the puck out of mid-air at the side of the net in for his 17th of the season to make it 3-0 after two periods. Runke and Holdin Getzlaf assisted on the goal, as Davis now has 6 goals in 6 games in February.
Melville would spoil the shutout bid from Cam Hrdlicka early in the 3rd period, scoring a powerplay goal just 41 seconds in to make it 3-1. But the Bruins bounced back scoring the next four goals unanswered to secure the victory.
At the 4:00 mark, Kaelan Whittingham fired a seeing-eye shot in from the point for his first career SJHL goal to restore the three-goal lead at 4-1. McPeak and Evan Forrest assisted on the goal. At 6:18, fellow defenceman Aleksa Babic snapped home his 4th of the year on the powerplay from Zasitko and Jag Phangura to make it 5-1.
The Bruins got two late goals to round out the scoring, with Phangura scoring his 14th goal to make it 6-1 at the 12:40 mark. Ilia Chmelevski and Sal Collora assisted. Then at 17:45, Runke was sprung in on a partial breakaway out of the penalty box and scored his team-leading 25th goal to close out the scoring at 7-1. Whittingham and Gabriel Filion assisted.
Cam Hrdlicka (30/31) was terrific in net for the Bruins, making plenty of key saves early in the game with the score still close. The victory marks 20 wins this year for Hrdlicka. Ethan Rau (33/40) was tagged with the loss for Melville. Both the Bruins and the Millionaires went (1/3) on the powerplay.
The Bruins (25-21-3-2, 6th) now have 55 points on the season, and could potentially clinch a playoff spot as early as this weekend, if Notre Dame (17-23-4-2, 9th) loses both their games in regulation and the Bruins win their game over Yorkton (16-32-0-1, 10th) on Saturday in Estevan at 7pm.