It had been ten years since Southey born-and-raised twin brothers Tanner and Tyson Manz had played a regular season game in their hometown rink.
And in their final year of junior hockey, both brothers made the most of their opportunity by registering primary points in a 5-4 shootout win for the Estevan Bruins over the Notre Dame Hounds on Tuesday night.
The atmosphere at the Southey Skating Arena was buzzing with excitement, not only for the chance to host high-caliber SJHL hockey but for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of cheering on their homegrown players in a competitive, meaningful game.
For both teams, the game was already carrying a deep feeling of animosity as they squared off just 4 nights earlier in Estevan with the Hounds skating off with a 3-0 victory. This game would have an even sharper edge to it throughout, and feature plenty more scoring from each side.
Notre Dame would open the scoring late in the 1st period as Curtis Wiebe picked top corner off the rush at the 14:18 mark to make it 1-0. But just under a minute later, the Bruins would even the score on the powerplay as an Isaiah Thomas point shot would squeak past Notre Dame’s Riley Kohonick and over the goal line to make it 1-1 at the 15:15 mark. Thomas’ 5th of the season was assisted by Tanner Manz and Jayden Davis. Estevan led 15-12 in shots after 20 minutes.
The Bruins would take their first lead of the game 5:00 into the 2nd period in a dream-come-true for the crowd in Southey. Jayden Davis poked the puck free in a battle along the boards for Eddie Gallagher, who drew the defence to him and feathered a perfect backhand pass to Tanner Manz. Manz one-timed the puck into the net as the fans erupted for Tanner’s 5th goal of the season to give Estevan a 2-1 lead.
But Notre Dame would battle back to retake the lead in the period. At 10:01, Jayce Nikbakht beat Bruins’ netminder Keenan Rancier to even the score at 2-2. Then at 13:41, Jake Dale finished on a breakaway to put the Hounds ahead 3-2. However before the period would end, another Southey product would find the scoresheet.
At 19:19, a breakout pass from Dayton Deics found Tyson Manz racing down the right wing. Manz sauced a perfect pass to the far post for a net-driving Dain Sardelli as the rookie forward finished for his first career SJHL goal to tie things up at 3-3 heading into the final period. Shots after two periods were 27-21 for Notre Dame.
The fourth lead change of the game would come 6:18 into the 3rd period as the Bruins jumped ahead. Brady Nicholas would carry the puck into the zone down the wide side before backhanding a pass into the slot that slid through harmlessly to the top of the circle. That’s when Kersey Reich would snap a quick shot through a maze of players and past Kohonick for the rookie defenceman’s 2nd goal of the year to put the Bruins ahead 4-3. Gallagher would also assist on the go-ahead goal.
Notre Dame would keep the pressure on as the period wound down and drew multiple penalties from the Bruins in hopes of scoring the tying goal. At the 17:14 mark, the Hounds would equal the score as a point shot by Hardy Wagner would be deflected past Rancier by Notre Dame’s Jarrett Penner to make it 4-4. Despite a late powerplay for Estevan, it would remain 4-4 after 60 minutes which led to overtime for the fans in Southey.
The Bruins would get multiple chances to end the game in overtime, but none better than a chance between both Manz brothers. Halfway through the extra frame, Tyson would fire a similar cross-ice pass on Sardelli’s earlier goal to a streaking Tanner who deflected the puck just inches over the net…missing a dream game-winning-goal for the crowd in Southey.
Overtime would solve nothing, and the back-and-forth game would need a shootout to decide a winner. The Bruins would shoot first with Devon Cyr being stopped by Kohonick. Notre Dame’s Jackson Tillinghast would beat Rancier giving the Hounds a 1-0 lead after Round 1.
In Round 2, Tyler Savage would dance in slowly and get Kohonick to bite on his beautiful deke as he lifted a backhand past the glove for a goal. Notre Dame’s Jared Hamm would be stopped by Rancier, evening the shootout at 1-1 after Round 2.
In Round 3, Eddie Gallagher would quickly stickhandle in front of Kohonick and once again get the goaltender to bite on the deke with Gallagher finishing a beautiful move to put the Bruins ahead in the shootout. Rancier just needed to stop one last shooter for the win, and he would do that as Sho Takai was denied and the Bruins erupted off the bench to celebrate an emotional 5-4 SO victory in Southey.
Keenan Rancier (39/43) earned the win just days after being named the SJHL ‘Goalie of the Month’ for his 6th win of the year. Riley Kohonick (32/36) was tagged with the loss for Notre Dame.
The Bruins finished (2/5) on the powerplay while Notre Dame went (1/6) on the man advantage.
The SJHL stats sheet shows a very impressive crowd of 670 fans filled the Southey Sports Arena for the game in what was decidedly a pro-Bruins atmosphere with the Manz brothers, as well as Devan Harrison from nearby Dysart, playing for Estevan. The gameday-hosting committee put on an outstanding show for both teams and fans throughout the game with signed jerseys and sticks by both teams being awarded to lucky program holders, a ‘7th Man’ for each team with a local Novice player, and a post-game meal for both teams in the lobby area. An annual neutral-site game in Southey is something that should be on the SJHL’s radar moving forward.
The Bruins (6-9-2-1) will look to ride the momentum from Tuesday’s win into a pair of weekend home games before an extended layoff. The Bruins host a pair of division rivals with the Weyburn Red Wings (8-11-0-1) visiting on Friday night and the Melville Millionaires (4-12-2-2) on Saturday night. After those two games, the Bruins will not play again for 10 days until a road game in Kindersley on November 19th.