Thanks to a 12 game winning streak, the Estevan Apex midget AA Bruins have reached their goal to be in top spot in the South Sask Midget AA Hockey League going into the Christmas break.
Heading into this past weekend, the Bruins trailed the Notre Dame Argos by a single point in the standings, but thanks to wins over the Regina Flames and Moose Jaw on Saturday and Sunday, Estevan (20-3-1) was able to leapfrog the idle Argos (18-3-2) and move into first place.
"It's good," said Bruins coach Tom Copeland. "We didn't play our best hockey this weekend, but we accomplished our goal and when you can do that, it's good. Now it's moving onwards and upwards and setting new goals and trying to achieve (them)."
The Bruins were home to the Flames on Saturday evening, and scored two goals in each period to down the Regina team 6-3. Brycen Odgers had a pair of goals for Estevan in the win; he potted the first tally of the hockey game, and then struck again with an empty netter in the final minute to seal the deal. Brody Connelly, Dylan Johner, Klae Bayda and Rhett Handley also scored for the Bruins, while Nate Ferris earned the victory in goal.
After their home triumph on Saturday, the Bruins travelled to Moose Jaw on Sunday to battle the Warriors. It was a much lower scoring affair than their tilt with the Flames a day earlier, but Estevan was still able to come out on top 2-1.
Both teams received great goaltending, and the game was kept scoreless through the first two periods. Dylan Herzberg finally broke the deadlock at the 15:51 mark of the third to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. After that, James Meyers for Moose Jaw and Dylan Johner for Estevan traded goals late in the period, and the Bruins held on for the victory. Tyler Myers was excellent in goal for Estevan, making 34 saves.
"We were leading 1-0 with five minutes left to go and we had gotten solid goaltending from Tyler Myers, just outstanding goaltending in fact. They scored with five minutes left to tie it and then we scored with 13 seconds left to win it," said Copeland.
With the first place position at the break, the Bruins have earned home-ice advantage through the playoffs, and Copeland says that will help them immensely.
"For us it's probably bigger than any other team in the league," said Copeland. "You go from playing in our rink, which is the smallest ice surface in the league to playing in places like Lumsden and Notre Dame with big, big ice surfaces. We've been successful in our own rink so we like playing at home and having that home ice advantage is huge for us."
The top eight teams in the league as of Christmas play down for provincials with the top seed facing the eighth seed. Copeland said he's not sure who will finish in eighth, but it's looking like it will either be Prairie Storm, the Regina Wild or Lumsden.
Estevan is back in action on Sunday, January 2 when they host the Regina Capitals at 2:30 p.m. at the Civic Auditorium.