Darcy DeRoose had two goals and an assist, and Curtis Martinu made 39 saves, as the Estevan Bruins defeated the Battlefords North Stars 4-1 on Friday night.
The win gave the Bruins back-to-back wins for the first time this year. The Black and Gold now have points in three straight games, and the offence, which has been questioned since the season started, has scored 12 times in those three games.
Austin Daae opened the scoring midway through the first period. Daae took a feed from Tanner Froese, and missed the net on his first chance. But he followed up on the play, and stuffed the puck past Battlefords goalie Connor Creech.
“I was getting a little concerned after the first, because we registered 12 shots,” said head coach/GM Keith Cassidy. “Eight of them were good scoring opportunities, four of them were glorious scoring opportunities, and we came away with one goal.”
He felt the Bruins should have been up two or three goals, rather than one. He was pleased with the focus they showed in the final two periods.
DeRoose scored his first of two goals early in the second, and added his second of the game 14 minutes later to give the Bruins a 3-0 edge. Hudson Morrison assisted on both goals.
“We both work good in the corners together, and we can read off of each other,” DeRoose said of his chemistry with Morrison.
Battlefords scored late in the third to pull within two goals, and to spoil Martinu's shutout. But Tyler Paslawski's empty net goal in the final minute clinched the victory. DeRoose assisted on the empty netter.
“It was … about as close as we've come to putting in a 60-minute effort,” said head coach/GM Keith Cassidy. “I was a little leery of the last four or five minutes, but … we were short-handed, and guys were getting tired. At one point we had two lines and an extra guy on the bench.”
The Bruins penalty killing was also strong. They killed off a brief two-man advantage late in the first period when it was still a 1-0 game. Then, late in the second, Wyatt Garagan was assigned a double minor for spearing, a two minute minor for checking from behind, and a game misconduct, that left his team short-handed for the final 2:52 of the second period, and the first 3:08 of the third.
“They could have scored three goals on what were, essentially, three separate power plays,” said Cassidy. “We beared down. I thought there was a lot of sacrifice out there in terms of our penalty killing, with guys blocking shots. It was not only a momentum builder for us, but it was probably a pretty big momentum killer for them.”
With 78 seconds remaining in Garagan's final penalty, newly acquired Roger Tagoona took a roughing penalty that left the Bruins two men short, but the penalty killers limited the North Stars' chances.
Forwards Roger Tagoona and Brendon Wilde made their Bruin debuts in the game. Tagoona was acquired the day before from the Battlefords, and while he didn't crack the scoresheet, Cassidy was still pleased with Tagoona's contributions.
“I thought he made some really strong plays with the puck today,” said Cassidy. “He took the puck strong to the net. He did the things where he walked out from the half wall and put the puck on net – things we need on this team.”
Tagoona said it's always nice to get a win in the first game against his former team, especially since it was against his former team.
“Once the game starts, they're not your team anymore, so you have to battle against them like you would any other team,” said Tagoona. “I felt we didn't ease up on each other at all, and it was nice to get a win against my old team.”
He had asked to be traded from the Battlefords, and spent a week waiting to be dealt. He says he's excited to be in Estevan.
Cassidy was also impressed with Wilde's effort.
The Bruins' next game is Tuesday night in Yorkton.