The Eagle Drilling Estevan Bruins are home after playing four games in five nights in what was the first leg of a six-game northern road trip. The Bruins faced the La Ronge Ice Wolves and Flin Flon Bombers twice each, and came away with a split against both clubs.
Estevan captain Troy Hunter and forward Ben Findlay led the way for the team as the two veteran forwards combined for five goals, six assists and two fights against the Wolves and Bombers.
The road trip started in La Ronge on Wednesday evening with a contest that was delayed approximately an hour and 10 minutes as the officials were late getting to arena. When things did finally did get started, the Ice Wolves took a 1-0 lead just over three minutes into the first period when Rhyse Dieno beat Bruins goalie Joel Danyluk.
Mark Cross tied the game for Estevan with just two seconds left on the clock in the opening frame. The Bruins then took a 2-1 lead just over three minutes into the second when Justin Waskewitch found the back of the net for his ninth goal of the season.
Estevan was able to hold onto that lead into the final frame only to watch the Ice Wolves come roaring back with six unanswered goals for a 7-2 victory.
After a night off to plan their revenge, the Bruins got another shot at the Wolves on Friday and took full advantage with a 7-4 triumph. Estevan scored two short-handed goals, a power play marker, and an empty netter in the win.
Hunter recorded a hat-trick and added an assist to lead all scorers in the game; Findlay, Cole Gibson, Ryan Ostertag and Dylan Smith had the other Bruins goals.
For Findlay and Danyluk, the games in La Ronge were a homecoming of sorts, as they were both key members of the Ice Wolves' SJHL championship squad from last year.
"To be honest, it was pretty emotional for me because it was very possibly my last two games in my old barn up north," said Findlay. " The fans in La Ronge are pretty passionate and aren't afraid to boo the opposition, but when I scored a goal I got an applause which was nice."
With a win and loss in La Ronge, the Bruins travelled to Flin Flon for a pair of games on Saturday and Sunday, only to have the team bus breakdown on the way. They didn't actually arrive at the Whitney Forum until after 7 p.m. with the game scheduled to start at 7:30.
After their second delayed puck drop in three nights, the Bruins engaged in a rough first battle with the Bombers that saw three fights. Flin Flon was able to get the better of the Bruins in the scoring department, and skated away with a 7-3 win.
Findlay, Smith and Tyler Spencer were responsible for the Estevan offence in the game, while Danyluk made 40 saves in the loss.
Unlike in La Ronge, the Bruins didn't have a night off before facing the Bombers for the second time, but it ended up that they wouldn't need it as they edged Flin Flon 4-3 on Sunday. Spencer, Justin Waskewitch, Cole Olson and Ty Ariss each found the back of the net for the Bruins, while Shea Cooper made 42 stops in the victory.
Findlay said the Bruins are content with splitting games in both La Ronge and Flin Flon, as it could have been much worse against two strong hockey clubs.
"The games up north - they're tough games, especially riding on the bus for so long, and the rinks are tough to play in, so to come away with four points out of eight was a pretty big deal," he said.
Estevan will play the final two of six straight on the road this weekend. They're in Nipawin on Friday night, and then Melfort on Saturday with both contests starting at 7:30 p.m.