The Estevan Bruins and Weyburn Red Wings played their first competitive games in almost 8 months over the weekend as preseason games began ahead of the 2020-21 regular season.
All 12 SJHL teams are playing a pair of home-and-home weekend games in the last two weekends of October as the league awaits final approval from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health to begin regular season play, with several new COVID restrictions and protocols set to be in place. As part of those restrictions, only 150 fans are being permitted for preseason games.
But despite the lack of a live audience, both teams put forth a solid effort considering the amount of time players have been unable to play in a competitive atmosphere. And for the Estevan Bruins, the return was successful as the black-and-gold won both games on Friday and Saturday.
FRIDAY – Bruins win 6-3 in Weyburn
Rookie goaltender Eric Clark made his debut in net and looked very comfortable, making 27 saves in the victory. In fact, Weyburn scored two late goals that had no meaning in the outcome otherwise Clark would have only allowed a single goal. On the offensive side, the Bruins spread out the scoring between six different players with only a handful of guys registering multi-point games.
SATURDAY – Bruins shutout Weyburn 3-0 in Estevan
The next night, a stingy Bruins’ defence continued to shut down the Red Wings attack as Emerik Demers was solid in goal but only needed to make 18 saves in a 3-0 shutout win. Demers was stellar in the 1st period as the Bruins were on the penalty kill for the majority of the opening frame, and held the fort late as he was the first star in his Bruins’ debut. Weyburn’s goaltender Joe Young was also solid in net as the two teams were scoreless until the middle of the 2nd period when Troy Hamilton and Mason Strutt scored minutes apart to give Estevan the lead. Strutt added a late empty-netter to round out the scoring.