The Estevan Bruins dropped their third straight game to start the season in a 2-1 overtime loss against the Melfort Mustangs September 25 at Spectra Place.
Melfort scored the winner with 23 seconds to play when a pass by Melfort's Jarrett Zentner bounced off a stick in front of the net and just barely crossed the goal line.
Calder Neufeld opened the scoring for the Bruins early in the second period, but Melfort tied the game a few minutes later on a goal by Brandon Sloan.
The Bruins did get a point for the overtime loss – their first point of the season.
Curtis Martinu, who was acquired from Ontario's Trenton Golden Hawks last week, impressed with a 28-save performance.
“He did his part to help us win a game, and we can help him out by giving him some offensive support out there,” said Bruins head coach/GM Keith Cassidy.
The Bruins have scored just five times in their first three games, but Cassidy is confident that the solutions for the team's early-season offensive woes are in place.
“When you get off to a start like that, everybody's uptight, but if we can relax and get back to playing hockey (the goals will come),” said Cassidy. “There's a sense of urgency there, but the guys can't be second-guessing everything they do out there. Everybody has an idea of how to get something done, and we're just trying to find some chemistry there for the guys, get them out there and get them playing hockey the way they can.”
Estevan opened the season with a 10-2 loss against the Melville Millionaires September 20 in Melville. Martinu, who had arrived from Ontario earlier in the day, got the start in goal, and surrendered six goals in the first two periods. Travis Pelletier came on in relief, and gave up four goals in the third period.
Tanner Froese and Nick Sova scored for Estevan.
The following night, the Bruins hosted their home opener, and suffered a 4-2 loss against Melville. Nick Weiss had both of Estevan's goals.
Martinu was better, as he allowed three goals on 25 shots.
Prior to the opening games against Melville, the Bruins announced their leadership team for this season. Defenceman Connor Milligan has been named the captain, while forwards Calder Neufeld, Tyler Paslawski and Cole Olson are the alternate captains.
“As we went through camp, it became more and more apparent, from talking to returning players and some of the new guys, who they felt the leadership group was going to be,” said Cassidy. “There was certainly a core of four guys who kept coming up. In terms of who fit the role of being able to handle the captain's role, I think Milligan did a fantastic job of that, and we look forward to him doing a great job for us this year.”
Cassidy felt that Milligan gave the Bruins a lift in the Melfort game when he got into a fight in the first period.
The Bruins are preparing for their first northern road trip of the season. They visit the Nipawin Hawks September 28, the La Ronge Ice Wolves on the 29th and the defending league champion Humboldt Broncos on the 30th.
The club is still carrying 28 players – three goalies, nine defencemen and 16 forwards. Cassidy said he expects the club will make some moves soon to reduce the number of players.