The Estevan Bruins played their first games at home since January 14th on the weekend, and treated the fans to a pair of thrilling finishes against the Nipawin Hawks and Flin Flon Bombers.
FRIDAY vs NIPAWIN
The Bruins and Hawks came into the weekend in the 6th & 7th spots in the standings, and the play on the ice was reflective of two teams battling for playoff positioning.
The first period was scoreless with neither team getting too many quality chances. The Bruins took the lead at the 13:50 mark of the 2nd period as Mitch Kohner was sprung in on a shorthanded breakaway, scoring on a beautiful move for his 13th goal of the year. Robbie Stewart and Sam McPeak assisted on the 1-0 goal. Nipawin would respond with a late goal to make the score 1-1 after 40 minutes.
Both goaltenders stood tall in the 3rd period as the defensive battle would go into overtime tied 1-1. In the extra frame, the Bruins would win a defensive zone faceoff and go in on a 2-on-1. Defenceman Owen Miley held onto the puck until the last moment before sniping a shot top shelf to give the Bruins a 2-1 OT victory with 1 minute left. Jag Phangura assisted on Miley’s 5th of the season.
Cam Hrdlicka was outstanding in net for the Bruins, stopping (27/28) shots in the win. Damon Cunningham (31/33) was tagged with the loss for Nipawin.
Neither Estevan (0/5) or Nipawin (0/2) could score in the powerplay, but the Bruins did score shorthanded on Kohner’s icebreaker.
SATURDAY vs FLIN FLON
The last time these two teams met at Affinity Place in October, the fans were treated to an 8-6 Bruins’ victory. Unbelievably, a very similar result would occur again on Saturday night.
A high-scoring 1st period kicked things off with a combined 7 goals in the opening 20 minutes. After the Bombers opened the scoring, Mitch Kohner scored his 14th of the year with a nice move in tight to tie the score at 1-1 at the 12:48 mark. Daniel O’Neill and Owen Barrow assisted.
Flin Flon would score two quick goals shortly thereafter to go up 3-1, before Cody Davis buried a rebound on the powerplay at the 15:40 mark to make it 3-2. Kohner and Jag Phangura assisted on Davis’ 12th of the season, and first goal since November 11th after missing over two months with an injury. However, the Bombers scored two more late goals to lead 5-2 after the 1st period.
Jackson Miller would replace starter Cam Hrdlicka for the rest of the game, and Miller was rock solid in net playing his first appearance since shutting out Battlefords on Jan. 14th. Miller kept the Bruins in the game and the Bruins cut the deficit to 5-3 after two periods thanks to Phangura’s 13th of the year at the 13:24 mark. Kohner and Ilia Chmelevski assisted.
Davis would make it 5-4 early in the 3rd period with his second of the game at the 3:35 mark. Keagon Little and Holdin Getzlaf assisted on the shorthanded marker. Flin Flon would score again to go up 6-4 at 8:31, but the Bruins continued to show great resolve and stay in the game.
At the 15:01 mark, Gabriel Filion found a loose puck in the slot and fired a beautiful backhander in for his 7th of the year. Barrow and O’Neill assisted on the 6-5 goal. Then in the final minutes with a late powerplay and the extra attacker on the ice, Davis would complete the comeback scoring his third goal of the game for the hat trick at the 18:30 mark. Little and Phangura assisted on the goal and the game would go into overtime for the second straight night.
The overtime period would be highly entertaining with multiple chances for each team including a pair of glorious chances for Kohner and Little. However, Flin Flon would pull out the win as Zach Cain beat Miller with only 18 seconds left in overtime to make the final 7-6 in overtime.
Jackson Miller would end up getting tagged with the loss, despite making (26/28) saves in relief of Cam Hrdlicka (7/12). Kenneth Marquart (26/32) earned the win for Flin Flon.
Flin Flon went (1/6) on the powerplay, while the Bruins went (2/7) on the powerplay while scoring their SJHL-leading 9th shorthanded goal of the year.
Bruins’ captain Kade Runke missed both games due to an injury stemming from the January 28th game in Flin Flon. Runke is considered day-to-day.
The Bruins (24-19-2-2) will be back in action on Wednesday, February 15th hosting the Melville Millionaires (11-27-5-1). The Bruins are 6th in the standings with 52 points, 5 points behind Melfort (57 points, 5th) and 9 points ahead of Weyburn (43 points, 8th) for the final playoff spot.