The Eagle Drilling Estevan Bruins were in action with a pair of games over the weekend. After a 5-4 loss in Yorkton on Friday, the Bruins improved their home record to 10-1-1-1 with a 5-3 win over the La Ronge Ice Wolves on Sunday evening.
The loss in Yorkton put an end to an Estevan five game winning streak, as they fell behind 4-1 in the second period - and unlike several other times this season, they couldn't quite pull off the comeback.
"We didn't play real well until the third period," said Bruins coach Karry Biette. "We kind of woke up and started playing hockey again, and you can't do that against a team like Yorkton - it's not going to work. We've learned that lesson probably three or four times already this year and we re-learned it again in Yorkton."
Mark Cross, Troy Hunter, Taylor Epp and Ryan Andersen provided the offence for Estevan in the loss. Joel Danyluk started the game in goal, but was replaced by back-up Shea Cooper at the start of the third.
Back in the friendly confines of the Civic Auditorium on Sunday, the Bruins were able to take advantage of a tired La Ronge squad. The Ice Wolves were playing their fourth game in five nights, and had been very successful to that point, winning the first three over Humboldt, Notre Dame and Weyburn.
After replacing Danyluk in Yorkton, Cooper got the start between the pipes against the Wolves and played a very solid game, especially considering he hadn't started a game since October 23.
"That was part of the reason we threw him in there in the third period in Yorkton, was to get him some action before tonight, and I thought he did well," said Biette. "The second one he would probably want back, but I thought he made some big stops."
The Estevan offence gave Cooper some support virtually right away, when Dylan Smith put his club in front 1-0 with the game just 58 seconds old.
After taking the lead, the Bruins ran into some penalty trouble as they had four straight calls against them. The fourth one proved to be too much, and the Wolves capitalized with a power play goal off the stick of Travis Eggum.
La Ronge was able to take the lead late in the second period when Phillipe Cliché beat Cooper with less than four minutes to play in the frame.
The Wolves' fatigue started to show in the third and the Bruins took advantage with four unanswered goals. Troy Hunter tied the game a minute into the period, and then Smith notched his second of the night to reclaim the Bruins' lead.
Estevan put the game away with two more goals just 28 seconds apart. Hunter found the back of the net on the power play tally, before Josh Jelinski scored his third of the year to make it 5-2.
La Ronge was able to get one back with 1:24 remaining, but it was too late and the Bruins hung on for the 5-3 victory.
After the game, Biette said he could tell the Wolves were tired, and that was a key factor in their third period collapse.
"There's no doubt, they had four games in five nights," he said. "They were a tired group and you could see through their quickness and the way they did things in the first versus the third, that they were wearing down."
With his two-goal performance, Smith now has 18 points in his last eight games. When asked about his recent success, he quickly credited his teammates.
"The main thing is my linemates," he said. "They've been really helping me out, opening a lot of space for me, and I've been getting some bounces that I didn't get at the start of the year and it's nice."
The Bruins (13-6-1-1) will now head out on a three game road trip, starting tonight in Kindersley. They'll be in Battlefords tomorrow, followed by a date in Humboldt on Friday. Their next home game is next Tuesday when they host Yorkton at the Civic. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.