The Estevan Century 21 Bantam A Bruins' quest for the Hockey Regina Bantam Tier II title came up one game short.
Estevan lost 4-1 to the host Moose Jaw Warriors on March 30 in Game 3 of the best-of-three league final. Moose Jaw won Game 1 3-2 on the 28th in Moose Jaw, but Estevan recovered to win Game 2 4-2 the following day in Estevan.
In Game 1, Moose Jaw led 2-0 in the second, but JD Gervais cut the lead in half with a goal late in the frame, and Preston Audet tied the game late in the third.
The Warriors notched the game-winning goal less than two minutes after Audet's tally.
The following day, Kade McMillen and Audet scored less than four minutes apart early in the first period to give Estevan a 2-0 lead, and then Audet and Jordan Stein had goals 24 seconds apart in the second to increase the lead to 4-0.
Moose Jaw made the score respectable with two goals in the third.
As for Game 3, Daymon Wanner had Estevan's lone goal. The Warriors led 1-0 after the first period, and 2-0 after two. Wanner's goal in the third cut Moose Jaw's lead in half, but the Warriors scored twice more to pull away.
“Moose Jaw only had three losses all season,” said Bruins head coach Kraig Wanner. “They were a very well-rounded team. They had a strong offence, strong goaltending and strong defence.”
Cody Levesque was in goal for Games 1 and 3. Zack Miller was the goalie for Game 2.
The series against Moose Jaw capped a remarkable finish for Estevan. Not only did they win their first six playoff games, but they had a four-game winning streak and an eight-game unbeaten run to finish the regular season. At one point this season, Estevan's record in league play was 5-7-3.
Wanner said the turning point was a second place finish at a mid-season tournament in Brandon, Manitoba.
“It just seemed like they finally found a niche, that they figured out how to play together,” said Wanner. “They also had some solid goaltending. Both our goaltenders had solid seasons, and really kept us up to speed, and positive, throughout the rest of the season and in playoffs.”
Eight players are eligible to return next season, but Wanner expects that some of the eligible returnees will be playing with Estevan's bantam AA club next season.