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Watch: Bruins' season comes to an end Friday night

Melfort won the best-of-seven series in five games.
Zach Burfoot (17) emerges from a scrum with the puck during Wednesday's loss to Melfort.

MELFORT - The Estevan Bruins' season came to an end Friday night in a 4-2 loss in Melfort against the Mustangs.

Melfort won the best-of-seven SJHL quarter-final series in five games.

For the second straight game, Melfort held the lead after the first period, the Bruins fought back to tie in the second, but the Mustangs pulled away with three in the third.

Nolan Roberts opened the scoring for Melfort with 5:27 to play in the first period. Zach Burfoot tied the game with a power-play goal roughly five minutes into the second. Both teams had opportunities to take the lead, including a couple of great chances in tight for the Bruins, and a shot by Melfort's Clay Sleeva that hit the post. 

Cole Unger scored the go-ahead goal for Melfort at the 4:42 mark of the third. Ryan Duguay added to the lead 3 1/2 minutes later and Aidyn Hutchinson added to the advantage with his seventh goal of the series with just over seven minutes to play. 

Keagon Little rounded out the scoring with a goal with just over four minutes to play. 

Jackson Miller stopped 28 shots for the Bruins, James Venne made 34 saves for Melfort. 

Eight members of the Bruins are graduating from junior A hockey and can't return next season: goaltender Cam Hrdlicka; defencemen Felix Allard, Blake Heward and Luke Rybinski; and forwards Little, Burfoot, Owen Barrow and Zachery Burns.

Hrdlicka spent all three seasons of his junior A hockey career in Estevan and is the only goalie this century to spend three seasons with the Bruins. Little was this year's captain and spent parts of four seasons with the Bruins. Those two players, along with Burfoot and Burns, were part of the Bruins' SJHL championship team in 2022. Burfoot and Burns rejoined the Black and Gold this season after playing elsewhere in 2022-23. 

Barrow was in his second year with the club. Allard, Heward and Rybinski were in their first year with the Bruins. 

This marked the third time in six years the Bruins and Mustangs have met in the playoffs. In 2019, the Mustangs eliminated the Bruins in six games from the SJHL's semifinal round. The following year, the Mustangs had a 3-1 series lead on Estevan when the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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