The CanElson Drilling Estevan Bruins managed one win in three games in their final northern road trip of the season, but the two losses could prove costly.
The Bruins lost 6-1 on February 9 and 4-2 on February 10 to the Kindersley Klippers. The Bruins and the Klippers have been vying for fourth place for most of the season.
Estevan recovered to beat the Battlefords North Stars 5-2 on February 11. The win ended the Bruins' four-game losing streak.
Prior to embarking on the road trip, the Bruins lost 1-0 to the Nipawin Hawks on February 7. The Black and Gold delivered a strong effort, but couldn't beat Nipawin goalie Jordan Liem, who made 38 saves. Taylor Balog had the only goal in the game – a power play marker that came with 12 seconds remaining in the first period.
Kindersley scored 11 seconds into the game on February 9, and added two more goals 26 seconds apart late in the first period to take a 3-0 lead. The Klippers would add three more in the second to lead 6-0.
Tyler Paslawski scored the Bruins' lone goal late in the third period.
Head coach/GM Keith Cassidy said the early goal set the tone for the game.
"That was just a case of us not clearing the rebound," said Cassidy. "That was indicative of how we played the rest of the night, because we had some good push in the offensive zone, but it seemed every time they got a little pressure, Marty (goaltender Curtis Martinu) would make the first save, and then they'd bang in the rebound."
The Bruins had a much stronger effort the next night against Kindersley, but still trailed 3-1 after the first period. Each team would score once in the final 40 minutes.
Dylan Smith and Zach Douglas scored for Estevan.
Curtis Martinu was in goal for those three games.
Hudson Morrison scored twice, and Calder Neufeld had a goal and two assists in the win over the Battlefords. Smith and Matt Brykaliuk had the other goals.
"We took care of the little things," said Cassidy. "Our sense of urgency was there. We battled hard for 60 minutes and we capitalized on our opportunities. Our game on Sunday night (the second loss to Kindersley) was quite similar, but it was a different result."
It was the first time that Neufeld has played a regular shift since suffering a tendon injury in early October. The line of Neufeld, Morrison and Alex Cote combined for seven points.
Brett Lewchuk, who was called up from Midget AAA for the game, stopped 38 shots to get his first SJHL victory.
"This was something that we had planned earlier in the week," said Cassidy. "Marty (Martinu) was going to need the night off, so that was one game Lewchuk was going to be able to help us out."
Estevan (18-27-4) sits fifth in the Sherwood Conference with 40 points. They're three points behind Kindersley. Both teams have five games remaining.
The Bruins are nine points ahead of the sixth place Weyburn Red Wings, who have six games remaining. The Bruins' magic number to clinch a playoff spot is three.
Estevan will host the Humboldt Broncos on February 15 at 7:30 p.m., and Kindersley on February 17 at 6 p.m. in what will be a must-win game if the Bruins hope to finish fourth in the conference.