The Estevan Bruins earned a much-needed and hard-fought regulation win over the Notre Dame Hounds on Saturday night as they look to climb up the standings before Christmas time.
The Bruins held on for a 3-2 victory at home over the Hounds, just one night after falling 7-4 to the red-hot Flin Flon Bombers on Friday.
Entering the night, the Bruins trailed Notre Dame by four points in the standings and six points behind Kindersley for the 8th and final playoff spot. Though it’s only the start of December, the Bruins were looking to head into the upcoming Christmas break on a hot streak and put themselves into a playoff position down the home stretch.
Tanner Manz got the home crowd into the game early as the veteran forward scored his 8th goal of the season (a new career high) at the 5:09 mark to put the Bruins up 1-0. Eddie Gallagher and Jayden Davis assisted on the opening goal.
That would be all the scoring in the 1st period, but there were plenty of hard hits and after-whistle scrums in the opening frame. Notably, Austin King-Cunningham stepped out of the penalty box after serving a 2-minute minor and timed up a hit on a Notre Dame forward skating through the neutral zone. The hit caught the forward up high and King-Cunningham was issued a 5-minute major for elbowing and a game misconduct, as the Bruins defence would be down to 5 skaters for the final 45 minutes of the game.
In the 2nd period, the Hounds would tie the game at the 14:39 mark with Curtis Wiebe beating Bruins’ netminder Keenan Rancier to make it 1-1 entering the final frame.
The Bruins would reclaim the lead just 3:26 into the 3rd period as Jayden Davis tapped home his 9th of the year after a pretty pass from Kade McMillen to make it 2-1. Gallagher also assisted on the goal.
It would remain a one-goal game until the final seven minutes when the Bruins would get some much-needed insurance. Troy Hamilton received a pass from Tyler Savage in the neutral zone and sped down the wing. Hamilton lowered his shoulder and drove around the defenceman cutting towards the net and shoveled a shot that trickled through Hounds’ netminder Logan Dyck to make it 3-1 for Estevan at the 13:49 mark. McMillen also assisted on the goal.
In the final three minutes, the Bruins took back-to-back penalties and Notre Dame would pull the goalie giving them a 6-on-3 advantage with 2:30 left in the game. At the 17:59 mark, Sho Takai tipped the puck past Rancier to make it 3-2 for the Bruins.
With the Hounds still on a 6-on-4 advantage in the final two minutes, the Bruins’ defence did a great job of blocking shots and keeping the puck to the outside while clearing the zone twice. As the final seconds ticked down, the Bruins cleared the zone after another blocked shot and held on for the 3-2 win.
Keenan Rancier (38/40) was once again rock-solid for the Bruins in net, making his sixth straight start in goal. Logan Dyck (34/37) was tagged with the loss for Notre Dame.
The Bruins (0/2) were unable to score on the powerplay while Notre Dame went (1/5), but did have two 5-on-3 advantages and a full 5-minute powerplay in the game.
The Bruins (10-13-2-1) are still on the outside of the playoff picture as we enter December with 23 points in 26 games. However, they are just five points behind Kindersley (8th – 28 PTS) for the final playoff spot with five games in hand on the Klippers, and four games in hand on the other teams outside the playoffs including Notre Dame (9th – 25 PTS), Melville (10th – 24 PTS), and Weyburn (12th – 21 PTS).
The Bruins begin a busy 8-game December schedule with their annual ‘Teddy Bear Toss’ night, hosting the league-leading Battlefords North Stars on Wednesday, December 4th at 7:00pm at Affinity Place.