The CanElson Drilling Estevan Bruins ended a pair of slumps with a 2-0 upset victory over the Notre Dame Hounds on December 4 in Wilcox.
Not only did Estevan snap a five-game losing streak, but they also ended a seven-game road losing streak that dated back to late October.
Nick Weiss and Taylor Reich scored second period goals to supply the offence against Notre Dame. Curtis Martinu stopped 42 shots to secure his first shutout as a Bruin.
The Notre Dame victory followed a northern road trip that saw the Bruins lose all three of their games: 3-2 against the Melfort Mustangs on November 30, 6-3 against the Flin Flon Bombers on December 1 and 4-1 to the La Ronge Ice Wolves on December 2.
“We played hard every game,” said head coach/GM Keith Cassidy. “Everybody had jump, and we started each game really well in terms of not having any bus legs.”
The Bruins outshot their opponents in all three northern games. In the game against La Ronge, Estevan had 47 shots, and they weren't just perimeter opportunities, either, Cassidy said.
“We had chances galore to score,” said Cassidy. “There were breakaways and three-on-twos and two-on-ones and two-on-nones. Whether we don't have the ability to put the puck in the net, or we're so uptight that we're squeezing the stick a little too tight, we're searching for that answer right now.”
Estevan's record is 9-15-2, which leaves them fifth in the Sherwood Conference. They'll host the Humboldt Broncos on December 7 at 7:30 p.m., the La Ronge Ice Wolves on December 8 at 2 p.m., and the Yorkton Terriers on December 11 at 7:30 p.m.
In off-ice news, the club made a series of moves to trim the roster to 22 players.
In one trade, the Bruins have acquired 20-year-old forward Alex Cote from the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Junior Hockey League for future considerations. Cote, who spent the previous two seasons playing major junior hockey in Quebec, had 19 points in 25 games with Summerside, who is hosting the 2013 Royal Bank Cup.
Cassidy hopes that Cote will be a solution to the Bruins' offensive woes.
“We've been pursuing him for two months, and it was just a matter of Summerside decided which player they were going to move, because they had two guys that we had interest in, and they finally made a decision,” said Cassidy.
Cote won't be in the line-up until December 15 in Yorkton. He has exams to write, and the Bruins knew that before they acquired him.
The Bruins also traded defenceman Austin Yano to the Kindersley Klippers for defenceman Brett Blatz. Blatz, 19, is six-foot-three and is expected to bring strength and size to the Bruins defensive core.
He had two goals, seven assists and 131 penalty minutes with Kindersley last year, and 10 points and 36 penalty minutes in 26 games with Kindersley this year.
“He adds that physical presence in our zone, and defends vigorously,” said Cassidy. “He does have a bit of offensive upside. He has a big shot.”
Yano was one of the top-scoring rookie defencemen in the SJHL last year, with 27 points in 50 games, but his production slumped this year to seven points in 23 games.
“Any time you're giving up a player who came in and had a season like he did last year, it's certainly tough to trade him,” said Cassidy.
Cassidy said that Yano, like the rest of the team, has struggled at times this year.
"I think Austin expected more out of himself this year, too," Cassidy said.
The Bruins have also announced that they released forward Dustin Jesseau. Jesseau was recently acquired from the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, but he became redundent with Cote's acquisition.
And goaltender Travis Pelletier has been reassigned to Junior B Pilot Butte. Steven Glass has returned from his knee injury, and backed up Curtis Martinu in the last four games, so a decision had to be made about Pelletier.