The Estevan Bruins wrapped up their season-long five-game homestand with eight of a possible 10 points, but they recognize that the points they didn't get were ones that slipped away.
Estevan lost 4-3 in overtime to the Weyburn Red Wings on February 4 in the final game of the home stand. Estevan trailed 3-1 after two periods, but captain Tanner Froese scored twice in the third to tie the game and force overtime. His second goal came with 82 seconds remaining in the third.
“We definitely didn't show up the way we should have tonight,” said Froese. “We made too many mistakes, and that cost us in the end. It's a game we shouldn't lose.”
The Bruins had chances to win in overtime, most notably one in tight by Keegan Allison. Less than a minute later, the Red Wings scored on a shot by Nick Pouliot.
Michael Sagen had the Bruins' other goal. It came in the first period.
Brett Lewchuk stopped 24 shots in the loss.
Weyburn has now won seven straight games.
“They're definitely a really hard-working team,” said Froese. “They're fighting for a Survivor Series spot, and they're going to do whatever it takes to get that spot. We can't take them lightly.”
Head coach/general manager Chris Lewgood said defensive breakdowns and costly mistakes were the difference against Weyburn.
“In overtime, there was a guy with a missed assignment at four-on-four in the defensive zone, and they capitalized on that,” said Lewgood. “They're all mental breakdowns, and they capitalized on them. There were a couple more that they didn't capitalize on.”
Three nights earlier, the Bruins scored seven times – their highest goal output in nearly two years – in a 7-1 victory over the Flin Flon Bombers. Austin Roesslein led the offensive barrage with a natural hat trick, as he scored the Bruins' third and fourth goals in the second period, and the team's fifth goal early in the third.
He also had an assist.
“Those were well-earned points,” said Lewgood. “The guy brings a pretty good effort every game. Any time those types of players get rewarded with offensive numbers, it's nice to see.”
Ben Johnstone, Wyatt Garagan, Lynnden Pastachak and Corey Kosloski had the other goals.
Matt Gibney stopped 21 shots for the victory.
Ironically, Roesslein suffered a minor ankle injury late in the Flin Flon game that forced him to miss the Weyburn game. Forward/defenceman RT Rice (ankle) and forward Keaton Longpre (back) were also sidelined.
Defenceman Kyle Bird returned to the line-up against Weyburn after missing about four weeks due to injury.
Lewgood said the club set a goal to get eight points during the home stand, but they know they should have had 10. Not only did they lose in overtime to Weyburn, they lost to Melville on January 29 in a game that the Bruins led 4-2 with six minutes to play.
Estevan's next action will be a three-game northern road trip. They will visit the Kindersley Klippers on February 7, the Battlefords North Stars on the 8th and the Humboldt Broncos on the 9th.
“Those are three of the best teams in the league, and we have them back-to-back-to-back,” said Lewgood.
Estevan's record is 23-15-3-5. They are seventh in the overall standings with 54 points, two behind the Humboldt Broncos. The top six seeds receive a first round bye.