ESTEVAN - Estevan hockey product Carter Onrait has been one of the top players in the Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey League (SMAAAHL) this season, and he continued his great campaign Saturday afternoon in Regina with a two-goal effort.
Then on Saturday night, he helped the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's Estevan Bruins defeat the top-ranked team in Canadian junior A hockey.
Onrait, 18, is the captain of the Estevan Great North U18 AAA Bears in his final season of minor hockey. He scored twice for the Bears in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Regina Pat Canadians. Onrait now has 23 goals this season, which is the sixth-most in the SMAAAHL.
While on the Bears' bus after the game, he received a message from Bruins' head coach and GM Jason Tatarnic, asking Onrait if he could suit up for the Bruins against the Flin Flon Bombers on Saturday night at Affinity Place. Onrait jumped at the chance.
"It was pretty unexpected, rolling on the bus back from Regina after we played a game there, but I wanted to suit up with the boys," said Onrait.
He played a regular shift for the Bruins on Saturday night against the league-leading Bombers. Onrait had a glorious chance to score on a breakaway late in the second period when the game was tied at 1-1, but was stopped by Bombers' goaltender Harmon Laser-Hume.
Estevan went on to win the game 4-2.
"He played really well. He played a regular shift … and had the breakaway, could have scored a big goal there, but he missed the pre-scout [report] on the goalie, so he didn't know what we were looking for," said Tatarnic with a laugh.
Tatarnic quickly added they look forward to seeing more of Onrait in the future, as the club has already announced that Onrait has committed to play for them next season.
Onrait said his legs were pretty tired after the Flin Flon game, but he wished he could have been back on the ice for more.
He thought the Bears had a good game against the Pat Canadians, one of the top teams in Saskatchewan's U18 AAA loop and a perennial contender for the title.
"We stuck with them. We just need to bury some chances," said Onrait.
The Bears will be his priority for the rest of the season, he said. The club currently sits tied for seventh in the SMAAAHL's standings with the Moose Jaw Warriors. Each team has 39 points with five games remaining, but Moose Jaw has the tie-breaker because they have more wins. The top eight teams make the playoffs.
Estevan will visit Regina again on Feb. 14, and then host the Warriors on Feb. 17 at 2 p.m. and the following day at 1:45 p.m. Both games will be at Affinity Place.
"We're making a playoff push right now, and hopefully we can get to the playoffs and make a run" said Onrait.
The Bears are in their third full season in the SMAAAHL, and are looking to make the playoffs for the first time.