The Estevan Bruins have been one of the best teams in the SJHL since the Christmas break, and they wrapped up an extended stretch of home games in thrilling fashion on Saturday night at Affinity Place.
Tanner Manz scored the overtime winner at 2:35 of the extra frame lifting the Bruins to a 6-5 OT victory over the Humboldt Broncos, as Estevan now trails Humboldt by just one point in the standings with two games in hand.
It was the 4th and final meeting of the regular season between the two teams with each team winning once in regulation and Humboldt winning the first game back in September at the SJHL Showcase in overtime.
A festive and energetic crowd filled the rink on Saturday night, and the Bruins used that energy in the 1st period to jump out to an early lead. Just 3:08 into the game, Dain Sardelli came over the blueline and fired a hard shot that eluded Humboldt’s Brendan Forman to put the Bruins up 1-0. Devan Harrison and Dayton Deics assisted on Sardelli’s 7th goal of the year, and the rookie’s 4th goal in his last 4 games.
Just minutes later at 7:06, Jayden Davis got lost behind the Broncos defence in the corner, picked up the loose puck, drove the net and backhanded home his 15th goal of the season. Tanner Manz and Kersey Reich assisted on the goal that made it 2-0, which remained the score after the 1st period.
Humboldt would start the 2nd period on an extended powerplay where they would strike twice to tie the game. First, Tristan Shewchuk scored just 15 seconds into the period to make it 2-1, then Spencer McHardy fired a point shot past a screened Keenan Rancier to tie the game at 2-2 at the 2:06 mark.
However following the pair of Broncos powerplay goals, the Bruins’ would seemingly rally behind defenceman Austin King-Cunningham, who was penalized standing up for Griffin Asham-Moroz after the rookie forward took a run from Humboldt’s Luke Spadafora. The Bruins would reclaim the lead thanks to a hard-working shorthanded shift.
Tyler Savage would force the puck down into the offensive zone and dig the puck free in the corner for Asham-Moroz, who fed a pass to Reich at the point. Reich’s shot beat Michael Harroch, who replaced Forman in Humboldt’s net in the 1st period, for the rookie defenceman’s 4th goal of the year to make it 3-2 at the 5:01 mark.
Much of the period would pass before the next goal as the Bruins’ struck again. Cody Davis was left alone in front of the net after a Sardelli shot and put home the rebound to make it 4-2 at the 18:09 mark. Brady Nicholas also assisted on the goal. However, the Broncos would get one goal back before the intermission as Reid Arnold beat Rancier at the 18:57 mark to make the score 4-3 after 40 minutes.
The Bruins would restore their two-goal lead early in the 3rd period on a beautiful passing play. Eddie Gallagher would be sprung from the Bruins’ zone and create a 3-on-1. Gallagher would drop a pass for Dayton Deics who jumped up in the play, as Deics fed a perfect no-look pass from the slot to Cody Davis at the side of the net. Davis deflected home his second goal of the game and 8th of the season to make it 5-3 Bruins 5:47 into the 3rd period.
Humboldt would respond yet again just a few minutes later as Logan Foster ripped a shot home off the offensive zone faceoff to make it 5-4 at the 7:08 mark. It remained a one-goal game until the 12:52 mark when Humboldt would tie things up. After a glorious opportunity by Isaiah Thomas at one end of the ice, the Broncos would come back on a 2-on-1 with Logan Kurki tucking home the tying goal past Rancier.
Neither team would break the deadlock before the end of regulation and both teams would earn a point as we went to overtime. In the extra frame, Tylor Ludwar poked the puck off Foster’s stick when he attempted a shot and Tanner Manz picked up the puck. Manz passed for Nicholas who sped up the wall with the puck, as Manz busted for the front of the net. Manz was able to beat his defender to the net and after Nicholas’ initial shot was stopped, Manz finished off the rebound for the game-winning goal in a 6-5 Bruins’ victory.
Rancier (32/37) earned the win in net for the Bruins, while Michael Harroch (32/36) was tagged with the OT-loss for Humboldt. Brendan Forman (1/3) was pulled after the Bruins’ 2nd goal in the 1st period.
The Bruins were shutout (0/3) on the powerplay, while Humboldt went (2/6) on the man advantage. The Bruins did add a shorthanded marker with Kersey Reich’s 2nd period goal.
With the win, the Bruins (21-18-3-1) pull within one point of Humboldt (20-18-5-2) for the 7th overall spot in the standings. Estevan (8th – 46 PTS) has two games in hand on Humboldt (7th – 47 PTS), La Ronge and Nipawin (5th/6th – 51 PTS).
The Bruins are (8-1-1) in their last 10 games which has vaulted the team up from the bottom of the league standings into a playoff spot and looking to continuing climbing higher before the end of the regular season. Estevan has 15 games remaining in the season, but will play the majority of those games (11) on the road. That stretch begins with a four-game road Northern road trip next week in Nipawin, Flin Flon, La Ronge and Melfort starting on Tuesday, January 28th.