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Two losses drop Estevan Bruins to fourth in Sherwood Conference

The Christmas break couldn't come early enough for the Eagle Drilling Estevan Bruins.

The Christmas break couldn't come early enough for the Eagle Drilling Estevan Bruins. With losses in Nipawin and Melfort over the weekend, the Bruins have now dropped 10 of their last 13 games, and have fallen to fourth place in the Sherwood Conference.

The two contests were the tail end of a long road-trip for the Bruins, and head coach Karry Biette said his club was tired after so much hockey away from home.

"It was the end of a long month," he said. "We were on the road and we played eight games in a short amount of time and all of them were on the road.

"In hindsight - I'm the one that made the schedule, but I think things would have been a little different with the excitement of moving into a new dressing room and practising in a new rink. As it stands, we weren't doing that, and it became a long slog and it is what it is."

A date in Nipawin on Friday night against the cellar-dwelling Hawks should have meant two points for the Bruins, however the home team had a strong third period, and skated away with a 5-2 victory. The Bruins opened the scoring just 1:05 into the opening frame when Mark Cross found the back of the net behind Hawks' goalie Brody Hoffman.

Nipawin answered back with two goals in 24 seconds to take the lead halfway through the period before a tally by Ben Findlay tied the game at two goals apiece.

It was all Nipawin in that third period however, as Darius Cole, Jonathan Ceci and Tyler Paslawski each beat Shea Cooper to give the Hawks the 5-2 win.
After the loss to the Hawks, Estevan moved on to Melfort Saturday evening in search of a better performance against the Mustangs. A lack of offence outside of the first period would prove to be their downfall once again, however.

Matt Dochylo scored at the 8:34 mark of the first to make it 1-0, but after that the Bruins offence all but dried up. The Mustangs capitalized and scored three times in the second period and once more in the third to take a 4-1 victory.

Estevan goalie Joel Danyluk was pulled and replaced by Cooper after allowing three goals on just six second period shots, but goaltending wasn't the only issue over the weekend as the Bruins managed to score just three goals in the two games.

"It was just a matter of the puck not going in the net for us. It wasn't that we didn't create any chances or put any pucks on net, it just wasn't going in for us," Biette said.

Heading into the weekend, Estevan sat in second place, but their two losses combined with one win for Kindersley and two for Weyburn allowed the two clubs to leapfrog the Bruins into the conferences' top three spots. As it stands right now, Yorkton leads the conference with 50 points, followed by Kindersley with 40, Weyburn with 39 and Estevan with 38.

Thanks to the Christmas break, the Bruins have 12 days in between games, which allows them to get some rest before getting back on the ice on December 31. According to Biette, the break couldn't have come at a better time.

"Everybody's tired," he said. "Going out on the road and playing that amount of games takes it's toll. It was just a long month so yeah, the break comes at a good time."

The games against the Red Wings will give the Bruins the opportunity to climb back into third and possibly higher. They will meet the Red Wings in three straight contests on December 31, January 1 and January 2. The games on New Year's Eve and the second are at the Civic Auditorium, with the New Year's Day game in Weyburn.

"Anytime you play someone in your own division it's huge, but this will be amplified with where we're sitting in the standings and where they're sitting, and obviously it'll play a role going forward as to where everybody's going to fit in," said Biette.