ESTEVAN - The Estevan Steelhaus U18 AAA Bears were very close to sweeping the four-game season series with the Saskatoon Contacts.
The Bears routed the Contacts 6-1 Saturday night and lost 6-5 in a shootout on Sunday – a game that Estevan led 5-3 with less than three minutes remaining.
Both games were played at Affinity Place.
Estevan won the previous two meetings between the two teams in December.
The Bears led 2-1 after the first period Saturday on goals by Daniel Ganert and Carter Onrait. Kole Keen and Tucker Buhay added markers in the second period for a 4-1 advantage.
Saskatoon tried to draw close in the third, outshooting Estevan 14-6, but it would be Carter Tuplin and Blaze Gutzke scoring for Estevan.
Jackson Miller stopped 36 of the 37 shots he faced.
The game on Sunday was tied at 3-3 after two periods. Buhay and Caden Drury scored in the first period, and Carson Birnie had the Estevan goal in the second.
Ganert and Drury scored in the third for a 5-3 Estevan advantage, and it appeared the Bears would pull off the victory. But Saskatoon scored twice in 26 seconds late to tie the game.
Saskatoon outscored Estevan 2-1 in the shootout.
Miller made 42 saves on the night.
Berkley Catton, drafted first overall by the Spokane Chiefs in the Western Hockey League prospects draft in December, had two goals and an assist for Saskatoon.
The Contacts have lost just four times in regulation during the past three months, but three of those losses were against Estevan.
The Bears will host the Yorkton Maulers on Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. – a game that was supposed to be played on Jan. 15. Then Estevan will host the Moose Jaw Warriors on Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. and the following day at 2:30 p.m. All games will be at Affinity Place.
Estevan (11-19-6) sits ninth in the Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey League standings, four points behind the Swift Current Legionnaires, who occupy the eighth and final playoff spot. The Bears have eight games remaining; Saskatoon has 10.
The Estevan Apex U18 AA Bruins (25-5-1) dropped two of three games on the weekend, losing 4-1 to the Melville Millionaires on Friday and 4-2 to the Yorkton Terriers on Saturday, but recovering to trounce Melville 10-4 on Sunday.
Kade Phillips had the lone goal for Estevan against Melville. It made the score 1-1 in the second period. Melville would get one before the end of the frame and two in the third.
The loss ended Estevan’s eight-game winning streak.
Ty Fehrenbach stopped 38 shots for the Bruins.
Mason Fichter and Jordan Marcotte scored for Estevan against Yorkton.
Keagan Carley made 30 saves for Estevan.
Estevan led 3-1 after the first period Sunday, and 6-3 through two, and then added four more in the third. James Mann and Carter Beck scored twice each for Estevan, while Broden Dukart, Spencer Copeland, James Fichter, Landon Kaban, Emmett McCarthy and Marcotte also scored.
Fehrenbach stopped 28 shots in the victory.