The Estevan Bruins longest winning streak in five years came to an end in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Melville Millionaires on January 14.
Estevan was riding a six-game winning streak entering the contest – their best since also winning six in a row in January of 2009.
The league-leading Mills led 3-1 after two periods, and the Bruins' streak appeared to be in jeopardy.
But Nick Egan scored on a power play early in the third – his third goal in the last four games – and Nolan Nicholas tied the game with eight seconds remaining in the frame on another power play.
“It was huge (when Nicholas scored),” said Egan. “You could see the excitement all over the team, jumping up and down. It meant a lot to us to battle back, in the third period especially, and to get it to a shootout.”
New Bruin Michael Sagen scored in the third round of the shootout to give the Bruins an edge, but Melville's Sam Williams tied the game. Nobody would score again until the eighth round, when Lane Harbor notched the game-winner for Melville.
Bruins head coach/GM Chris Lewgood hopes his players get some more confidence from rallying to tie the game.
“I thought it was good that we came back, and proved to ourselves that we can play with them, and take the play to them,” said Lewgood.
Keegan Allison opened the scoring for Estevan a little more than two minutes into the first period. The Bruins then had several glorious chances to up the lead.
Melville scored three times in less than two minutes in the second, with two goals by Colin Mospanchuk and one by Harbor, to take a 3-1 lead.
The Millionaires had several other chances to extend the lead, but they were denied by Bruin goaltender Brett Lewchuk.
“We've been lucky enough to have good goaltending all year, and it doesn't matter if it's Gib (Matt Gibney) or Lewie (Lewchuk), we know we can count on the guy back there to bail us out once in a while,” said Lewgood.
Lewchuk finished with 34 saves.
Egan was a key player for the Bruins during their six-game streak. He scored the game-winner – his first SJHL goal – in a 3-2 victory over the Notre Dame Hounds on January 8. And he also scored in a 5-2 win over Notre Dame on the 12th.
“It's a huge monkey off your back when you get that first goal,” Egan said. “It makes things easier after that.”
His efforts earned him the SJHL's Defenceman of the Week honours for January 6 to 12.
The Bruins' other recent game was a 4-2 win over the Weyburn Red Wings on January 11.
Estevan has 46 points, thanks to a 20-13-2-4 record. They'll host Weyburn on January 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Spectra Place, and they'll visit Notre Dame on the 21st.
In off-ice news, the Bruins made one deal prior to the January 10 trade deadline, sending 20-year-old defenceman Brett Blatz and cash future considerations to the La Ronge Ice Wolves for Sagen, a forward who is also 20.
“Sagen's exactly what we thought he'd be, and he's exactly what we needed,” said Lewgood. “We needed that offensive left winger. He plays well in all three zones, so it's not like he's a liability defensively, but he brings an offensive punch that we needed.”
Sagen had three assists in his Bruin debut in the win over Weyburn, and assisted on Nicholas' tying goal against Melville.
Blatz's departure leaves the Bruins with six defencemen, and two of them, Kyle Bird and RT Rice, are currently injured.
Lewgood said they were close to acquiring a defenceman a couple times prior to the deadline, but their efforts fell through.
“We had several conversations with teams, and agreed on deals, that were based on other deals,” said Lewgood. “Other teams had deals fall through that cost us our opportunity at a defenceman.”
Local product Jason Hengen was called up from Junior B for the last three games, while another local, Mason Benning, was recalled from North Battlefords' midget AAA team for the Melville contest.