The Estevan Bruins parlayed a strong effort into a 2-1 victory over the Humboldt Broncos on December 3 at Spectra Place, and snapped a five-game losing streak in the process.
Estevan fell behind 1-0 early in the second period, but goals by Corey Kosloski and David Robertson in the second gave the Black and Gold a 2-1 lead. The Bruins limited the Broncos to a handful of opportunities in a scoreless third period.
Matt Gibney made 26 saves in the victory.
"We don't have the offensive run-and-gun firepower, so if we start trying to play run-and-gun hockey, we end up in a bit of trouble," said head coach/GM Chris Lewgood. "If we keep our defensive game tight, and limit the other team's opportunities, I like our chances."
The game was notable for a couple reasons. First, it was the teddy bear toss night. After Kosloski scored, fans tossed teddy bears onto the ice. The bears were collected and will be turned over to the Estevan Salvation Army.
It was also the Bruin debut for 18-year-old forward Jason Duret. Duret was acquired from the La Ronge Ice Wolves in a four-player deal December 1. Teams had until December 1 to trim their rosters to 25 players.
Duret was a scoring star with the Prince Albert Mintos Midget AAA team last year, as he led the league in assists with 48, and was third in points with 67.
Lewgood said Duret has been accepted by his teammates already.
"They see his creativity," said Lewgood. "He was a little snakebit around the net tonight, but I think he's going to fit in well."
Duret has split this season between Camrose of the Alberta league and La Ronge. He wasn't surprised when he was dealt to La Ronge earlier this year, but he didn't see this latest deal coming.
"I'm definitely excited," said Duret. "Estevan has a beautiful rink and a beautiful dressing room, and they've been around for a long time. They have a great program here."
He spent his first game on the top line with Austin Daae and Tanner Froese.
In addition to his skill, Duret said he'll bring competitiveness and a consistent work ethic.
"You can't expect to score every game, or get points every game, but you can control how hard you work," said Duret.
The Bruins gave up forward Hudson Morrison, 19, and defenceman Tanner Clark, 20. Morrison had 20 goals in his first year with the team last year, but slumped to just five in 23 games this season.
"We had expectations that Morrison was going to produce more than he did, but he worked hard most nights, and realistically, we saw an opportunity to bring in a really quality young man," said Lewgood.
Clark, meanwhile, had four points in eight games with Estevan. He was acquired from the Manitoba league's OCN Blizzard last month.
"Good players are always asked about, and we had teams calling us about Clark before I ever met him in person," said Lewgood. "At some point you have to evaluate what your needs are, your supply and demand, and I thought our offensive defencemen went from being an area of need to an area of excess."
As part of the deal, the Bruins also land Duret's younger brother, Ryan. He's a 17-year-old forward who has 23 points in 23 games with the Mintos this year. Lewgood hopes that Ryan Duret will get a couple games in with the Bruins this year.
Lewgood said the Durets are similar players – skilled forwards who can play either centre or right wing.
The Bruins are third in the Sherwood Conference with an 11-11-2-2 record, and 26 points.
They'll visit the Melfort Mustangs on December 6 and the Flin Flon Bombers on December 7, and then host the Yorkton Terriers on Tuesday, December 10. Game time is at 7:30 p.m.
The win over Humboldt came after a disappointing northern road trip for the club. The Bruins lost 6-4 to the La Ronge Ice Wolves on November 29, 4-2 to the Battlefords North Stars on November 30 and 5-1 to the Kindersley Klippers on December 1. There weren't many positives on the road trip, Lewgood said, and the players have already put it behind them.