It was a night of firsts at Affinity Place on Saturday in a game that has left the Estevan fans buzzing about their Bruins.
Rookie goaltender Jackson Miller stopped all 30 shots he faced as the hometown kid led the Bruins to a 5-0 shutout win over the Battlefords North Stars, handing the CJHL’s #1 ranked team their first regulation loss this season. For Miller, the memorable performance will go down as his first career SJHL shutout.
Estevan entered the game having won their last two games, while Battlefords was riding an incredible 16-game winning streak. This would be the final meeting of the year between the two teams, and the Bruins played arguably their strongest game of the season knowing it would be their last shot to beat Battlefords who held a 33-0-2-1 record coming into Estevan.
The Bruins started the game strong and got the scoring started at the 9:09 mark of the 1st period. Gabriel Filion potted his 6th of the season from Tyler Guy to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes. In the 2nd period, Battlefords would push hard for the equalizer and carry the play, but Miller and the Bruins’ defence kept the score at 1-0 heading into the final frame.
At the 6:43 mark of the 3rd period, captain Kade Runke scored on the powerplay as his team-leading 23rd goal from Filion made it 2-0. The Bruins would then shock both Battlefords and their own fans by scoring twice more in less than two minutes to double the lead. Keagon Little continued to be red-hot since returning to the team scoring his 4th of the year at 7:27, then Evan Forrest scored his 9th goal at 8:29 to make it 4-0.
Little scored his second of the game with a powerplay marker at 14:29, assisted by Ilia Chmelevski and Robbie Stewart, to make it 5-0. All that was left to do was keep Battlefords off the board to clinch the shutout for Miller, and the crowd cheered loudly as the final seconds ticked down towards an impressive 5-0 shutout victory.
“The players played hard and played their hearts out for each other. Miller has played excellent for us since the Christmas break and he was exceptional tonight.” – Head Coach/GM Jason Tatarnic
Miller (30/30) has now won three consecutive starts as starter Cam Hrdlicka continues to recover from injury. Justen Maric (35/40) was tagged with the loss for Battlefords.
The Bruins continued their strong special teams play of late, going (2/7) on the powerplay while shutting down Battlefords (0/2) on the man advantage.
The Bruins (23-16-1-1) will now be on the road for four straight games, but won’t play again at home until February 10th as the provincial curling championships take over Affinity Place. The Bruins will play two games in Flin Flon on January 20-21 and twice in La Ronge on January 27-28th before the league takes a week off for the SJHL-MJHL Showcase in Winnipeg at the end of the month.