ESTEVAN - The Estevan Bruins have won the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League championship.
The Bruins defeated the Flin Flon Bombers 2-0 on Friday night at Affinity Place to win Game 7 of the best-of-seven series.
It's Estevan's first league championship since 1999, and their third in franchise history. They also won the league title in 1985.
Kian Calder's point shot 5:01 into the second period opened the scoring Friday night and proved to be the series-winning goal. Olivier Pouliot tallied on a power play with 8:22 to play in the third to add to the lead.
Boston Bilous made 29 saves for the Bruins to get the shutout victory. Cal Schell made 28 saves for Flin Flon.
The Bruins had the best scoring chance early on in the game, but forward Cody Davis hit the post.
Flin Flon's best scoring chance came with less than two minutes to play, but Bruin goaltender Boston Bilous made a great pad save off of Jaeden Mercier. The Bruins then had several scoring chances on Bombers' goaltender Cal Schell.
The first period was also physical. Caelan Fitzpatrick of the Bruins dished out a thundering hit on Brent Wieschorster that drew roaring applause from the Bruins' faithful.
Olivier Pouliot had a great chance to open the scoring early in the second period, but his shot hit the crossbar. Both teams have had opportunities since Calder's goal. Drew Kuzma had a glorious opportunity for Flin Flon, but Bruin defenceman Nolan Jones made a great play.
Flin Flon had another great chance by Xavier Lapointe on a 3-on-2 a few minutes into the third, but Bilous made the save.
No penalties were called until coincidental minors were assessed to each team midway through the third. Lapointe then received a double-minor for high sticking, which led to Pouliot's goal.
Flin Flon would get one power play in the third, but Bilous made a couple big saves to keep the 2-0 lead in tact, including one off of Jacob Vockler.
A sold-out crowd of 2,662 attended the game.
The awards followed after the game. Bilous was named the finals MVP. The Bombers were presented with items for being the runner-ups. Then the Bruins were presented with their championship memorabilia, and captain Erik Houk was presented with the championship trophy. The team then took their celebratory photo.
Estevan is the first team to win the SJHL championship since 2019. The 2020 and 2021 championships were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The home team won each game in the series. Estevan won the first two games of the series, taking Game 1 4-2 on April 22 and Game 2 2-0 the following night. Flin Flon recovered to take Game 3 4-3 on April 26, and then routed the Bruins 7-1 the next night.
Estevan responded with a thrilling 3-2 overtime win on April 30, and Flin Flon won big again in Game 6 with a 6-1 triumph.
The Bruins previous final appearance came in 2018, when they lost in seven games to the Nipawin Hawks. The Flin Flon Bombers last won a championship in 1993. They lost in the league final in 2016 and 2017.
Both teams have already qualified for the Centennial Cup national junior A hockey championship, presented by Tim Hortons. Estevan is in as the host team for the 10-team tournament, which will run from May 19-29. Flin Flon will be the SJHL representative for the tournament.
But the guaranteed spot in nationals didn't diminish the intensity of the tournament, as all six games have offered lots of intensity and physical play.
Also getting lots of attention during the night was the 50-50 draw. The owner of the winning ticket will receive $65,907.50.