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Bruins' season on the brink

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Matt Gibney drops down to make a save against the Battlefords North Stars on March 18 at Affinity Place. Gibney has been the SJHL's goaltender of the week the last two weeks. (Photo credit: Jennifer Durr Photography).

Despite a valiant comeback against the Battlefords North Stars on Wednesday night, the Estevan Bruins are still down 3-1 in the best-of-seven quarter-final series.

The Bruins trailed 2-0 with less than six minutes to play in Game 4 on Wednesday night at Affinity Place. But Austin Daae cashed in a rebound with 5:19 to play to cut the deficit in half. Daae's goal was the first for the Bruins since early in the second period of Game 2.

Then Tanner Froese redirected David Robertson's point shot with five seconds remaining in the third period to tie the contest.

The referees conferred briefly after Froese's goal, believing that the puck might have been knocked in with a high stick, but it was ruled to be a good goal.

But the Battlefords regrouped before the overtime period, and at the 2:44 mark of the extra frame, Kendall Fransoo's point shot beat Bruin goaltender Matt Gibney for the winning goal.

Blake Young had the Battlefords' other two goals. Both of his tallies came in the second period.

Gibney stopped 30 shots in the loss.

***

Estevan won Game 1 4-1 on Saturday night in North Battleford, but lost Game 2 2-1 on Sunday.  When the series shifted to Estevan, they lost Game 3 3-0 on Tuesday night.

Battlefords opened the scoring in Game 1 when Cameron Blair scored in the first period. It remained a 1-0 game until late in the second, when Froese tied the game.

Keegan Allison, Cory Kosloski and Froese tallied in the third to lift the Bruins to victory. Daae had three assists.

"We got pucks on net, and they seemed to go in for us," said Froese. "If we can figure out what we did that game, and bring it to the rest of our games, I think we'll be just fine."

Matt Gibney stopped 39 shots for the win.

"We did all the little things right," said head coach/GM Chris Lewgood. "We played our positions, we worked hard, put pucks to the net and forechecked hard."

Many of those traits carried over to Game 2, Lewgood said.

Austin Roesslein scored a short-handed goal early in the first period to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead, but Blair tied the game 5 1/2 minutes later.

Nick Fountain scored the winner seven minutes into the second period.

Gibney stopped 39 shots for the second straight game.

Estevan came out strong in Game 3, outshooting the Battlefords 13-10 in the first period, and generating several strong scoring chances. But the North Stars escaped with a 1-0 lead on a goal by Luke McLogan.

The Stars played better defensively in the final two periods, limiting the Bruins to eight shots on goal in each frame.

Blair and Fountain scored 46 seconds apart in the third to put Game 3 away.

"The first period I thought we really took it to them," said Froese. "I thought we were the better team that period. Then they caught onto that, and clamped down on us a little bit defensively and shut us down."

Gibney made 33 saves in the loss.

"They were able to capitalize on our breakdowns," said Lewgood. "I thought the possession time and the zone time were fairly even, and at times, I thought we carried the bulk of the play."

It was one of the Bruins' most physical games of the year, too, he said.

Game 5 will be March 21 in North Battleford. Game 6, if necessary, will be on the 21st at Affinity Place at 7:30 p.m. Game 7 would be two nights later in North Battleford.


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