MUSTANGS SCORE SIX UNANSWERED GOALS TO TAKE 1-0 SERIES LEAD
Coming off a highly-emotional Game 7 overtime victory to advance to the SJHL semi-final, the Power Dodge Estevan Bruins had hoped that they would be able to build off a three-game winning streak and get off to a hot start against the Melfort Mustangs.
But despite leading 2-0 early in the game, it was not to be as the Mustangs scored six unanswered goals including a late empty-netter to draw first blood in the Best-of-7 series by defeating the Bruins 6-2 in Melfort on Friday night.
The Bruins opened the semi-final on the road after having home-ice advantage in their quarterfinal series victory over the Humboldt Broncos. Melfort had been off the ice for six days after dispatching the Kindersley Klippers in five games, the only quarterfinal series that did not go the distance.
But to start the game, it would be the Bruins getting out ahead of a rested Mustangs squad with the opening goal of the series. At the 11:52 mark, Aigne McGeady-Bruce pinched in from the point and outworked the Melfort winger on the boards to draw the puck loose towards the slot. That’s where Bryce Platt fed a soft pass through a defender’s legs to Turner Ripplinger down low. Ripplinger made a sweet, subtle move to open up the pads of Melfort’s Noah Giesbrecht and slide home his 2nd of the playoffs to make it 1-0 for Estevan.
That would remain the score until early in the 2nd period when the Bruins would add to their lead. Again it would be the “Money Line” striking for Estevan as TJ Irey forced a turnover on an attempted breakout and the puck found Devan Harrison at the point. Harrison’s shot was neatly deflected by Platt who snuck it past Giesbrecht for his 3rd of the playoffs to make it 2-0 Estevan just 4:07 into the middle frame.
But that’s when Melfort’s offence showed up in waves, with the unlikely second-line of the Mustangs doing all the damage.
At 9:39, Kenzie Arnold ripped a shot past Bruins’ netminder Grant Boldt to trim Estevan’s lead to 2-1. On their next shift at the 11:32 mark, Drew Anderson tied the game at 2-2.
The line wasn’t done there as at the 15:12 mark, Arnold scored his second of the period to give Melfort their first lead of the night at 3-2. Then just 1:38 later, Arnold completed the 2nd period hat trick to put the Mustangs ahead 4-2 going into the final period.
At the 5:12 mark, Game 7 overtime hero Tristyn Deroose would do his part to give his teammates a boost by dropping the mitts with Melfort’s Kyle Schneider. Both players landed some hard punches, with Deroose closing off the tilt with a couple hard blows to Schneider. Both players would be ejected from the game.
But the Bruins were not able to respond and make the game any closer, as the SJHL’s ‘Player-of-the-Year’ finally got on the scoresheet with Carson Albrecht scoring to make it 5-2 at the 12:07 mark.
The Bruins would pull the goalie late for the extra attacker, but were unable to get closer and after Albrecht scored his second of the game into the empty net, the final score would read a 6-2 victory for Melfort in Game 1.
Grant Boldt (27/32) was solid in goal for the Bruins, while Noah Giesbrecht (25/27) stool tall when called upon in getting the win for Melfort.
Neither team could capitalize on the man advanatage, as Estevan went (0/4) and the Mustangs were shutout (0/1) on their lone opportunity on the powerplay.
A crowd of 1,344 enjoyed Friday night’s series opener. The Bruins are looking to even things up heading back to Estevan with Game 2 scheduled for 7:30pm on Saturday night at the Northern Lights Palace in Melfort.
Bruins Forward Turner Riipplinger Forces His Defender Into The Boards During Friday Night’s Semi-Final Opener. (Photo: Durr Photography)