A pair of come-from-behind efforts enabled the CanElson Drilling Estevan Bruins to picked up three of a possible four points, and further strengthen their grip on a Sherwood Conference playoff spot.
Estevan rallied from a 3-1 deficit February 2 to double up the Melfort Mustangs 6-3. Dylan Smith accounted for the bulk of the offence, with four goals and an assist. Three of those goals came in the third period.
Matt Brykaliuk and Hudson Morrison had the other goals against Melfort. Alex Cote assisted on all four of Smith's goals.
Prior to the game, head coach/GM Keith Cassidy had predicted that Smith would have a four-goal night.
“I just got an order of sticks, and I had been waiting for them for a while,” said Smith. “He gave me a stick, and he asked me how many (goals) I've got in it. I said three, and he said 'No, I think you've got four.' It's weird how that turned out.”
Smith's four-goal game helped him earned the SJHL's Player of the Week Award, the second time since returning from a U.S. junior league in January that Smith has garnered the distinction.
Cassidy was pleased with the resiliency the Bruins showed against Melfort. Estevan had lost their first three games against the Mustangs this year.
“What I liked tonight is that we didn't get down on ourselves,” said Cassidy. “We battled back. I think we're getting to know that we have to work hard at all times, and that we always have a chance to be in the game.”
Three nights later, Estevan lost 2-1 in overtime to the Yorkton Terriers. Yorkton had a 1-0 lead for much of the game, but Estevan tied the game midway through the third on a goal by Brykaliuk.
Smith had a chance to score the winning goal with less than a minute to play in the third, but missed an open net. The Yorkton goalie was out of position on the play, thanks to a funny hop off the boards.
The Terriers scored the winning goal 62 seconds into overtime on a goal that many people believed was offside.
“I don't know if it was offside, or if it was interference,” said Cassidy. “You could probably make arguments for both. The fact of the matter is that nobody that can make the call saw it.”
Curtis Martinu was in goal both games. He stopped 32 shots against Melfort, and 38 against Yorkton.
While Martinu faced a lot of shots against Yorkton, Cassidy said the Bruins didn't surrender a lot of quality chances.
“If Marty can see them from the outside, we expect him to make that save,” said Cassidy. “I don't think we were too crisp in our own zone (tonight), in terms of clearing pucks. We have been better at that. That accounted for a couple rebound saves that he had to make.”
Forward Wyatt Garagan returned to the Bruins' line-up against Yorkton. He drew an assist on Brykaliuk's goal.
Estevan (17-24-4) sits fourth in the Sherwood Conference, one point ahead of the fifth place Kindersley Klippers, and seven up on the sixth place Weyburn Red Wings.
The Bruins will conclude their six-game homestand on February 7 against the Nipawin Hakws.
Then the Bruins will embark on their final northern road trip of the season, with games at Kindersley February 9, the Battlefords North Stars February 10, and in Kindersley February 11.