ESTEVAN - The Battlefords North Stars are no longer unbeaten in regulation this season.
The Estevan Bruins blanked the Stars 5-0 Saturday night at Affinity Place to hand the Stars their first regulation loss in 37 games, and just their fourth loss of the season. Jackson Miller made 30 saves in the Bruins’ crease to get his first SJHL shutout, and Keagon Little scored twice for the second straight night to pace the Bruins’ attack.
Estevan led 1-0 after the first period on a goal by Gabriel Filion. The Bruins had a Teddy Bear Toss promotion for the Children’s Miracle Network, so many fans tossed bears on the ice after the goal.
The promotion caused a slight delay, but it didn’t stop the Bruins’ momentum, and they outshot the Stars 16-8 in the first period.
The Stars, who have been the top-ranked team in the country for most of the season, regrouped in the second and outshot the Bruins 15-7, but couldn’t beat Miller. The Bruins defenders helped out their goalie, too, with blocked shots and by clearing rebounds.
The Bruins had chances to score, too, with the best likely by Ilia Chmelevski late in the frame.
Battlefords hit the post early in the third period, and the Bruins would take over from there. Kade Runke scored on a power play 6:43 into the third. Little added to the lead 44 seconds later, and Evan Forrest made it a 4-0 game 62 seconds after Little’s goal.
Little would get one more on a power play with 5:31 to play in the third.
Miller had to make a few more saves after Little’s goal to preserve the shutout.
After the game, Miller was mobbed by his jubilant teammates, with the biggest hug coming from fellow netminder Cam Hrdlicka. And the fans cheered loudly when he was announced as the first star of the game.
Justen Maric finished with 35 saves on the night for the Stars.
It was the Bruins final home game until Feb. 10, as they will be out of Affinity Place due to upcoming curling provincials. They will visit the La Ronge Ice Wolves on Jan. 20 and 21.
Battlefords (33-1-2-1) will visit the La Ronge on Jan. 17.