A nine-day break has allowed members of the CanElson Drilling Estevan Bruins to enjoy some recovery time, and to prepare for what will be a busy schedule before Christmas.
The Bruins haven't played since a 3-2 loss to the Melville Millionaires on November 15. Their next game is November 22 at home against the La Ronge Ice Wolves. It's been a welcome break for the players, said head coach/GM Keith Cassidy, including a few who have been battling injuries.
Forward Taylor Reich played in the last couple games before the break, and is now nearly 100 per cent, Cassidy said. Another forward, Matt Brykaliuk, could be back in the line-up against La Ronge. And there's a slim chance that goaltender Steven Glass could be in the line-up for the first time this season.
But forward Calder Neufeld suffered a setback in his recovery from a high ankle sprain.
“I think it's been a good break for the entire team, not just physically but mentally,” said Cassidy.
During the break, the Bruins travelled to the University of North Dakota (UND) to watch some hockey at a higher level, and to view the vaunted Ralph Engelstad Arena where UND plays their home games.
Cassidy said he was encouraged by the effort against Melville, as he felt they dominated the second and third periods. Centre Dustin Jesseau, who was acquired a day earlier from a team in Ontario for future considerations, made his Bruin debut and left a positive first impression.
“He's a very skilled hockey player – very fast with good hockey sense,” said Cassidy. “He's going to be a good addition to our line-up.”
Prior to the trade, Jesseau was playing with the Abitibi Eskimos of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, where he had 10 points in seven games.
Jesseau's acquisition leaves the Bruins with 25 players. Centres Ben Williams and Tyson Valette have been released. Cassidy said he would like to trim the roster to 22 or 23 players by December 1, which is the deadline to have rosters at 25.
He doesn't expect that the injuries will hamper the club's ability to carry 25 players.
“The goaltending situation we'll have to monitor closely this week, and see where that's at,” said Cassidy. “As far as Calder Neufeld, we know what he can do, so I don't think that's going to affect much. We have some guys who are able to play both forward and defence, so that leaves us in a good situation.”
Estevan hosts La Ronge on the 22nd and the Kindersley Klippers on the 23rd. Both games are at 7:30 p.m. Then they'll visit the Yorkton Terriers on November 26 – the first of five straight games on the road.