One day after a gut-wrenching loss, the CanElson Drilling Estevan Bruins made sure they put it behind them and finished the weekend with a victory.
The Bruins (3-7-2) coughed up three third-period goals in a stunning 4-3 overtime loss to the Flin Flon Bombers on Saturday, then picked up a 5-2 decision in Weyburn over the hapless Red Wings on Sunday.
On Saturday, Landon Hiebert took a centring pass from Brett Penner and rang it off the left post and in to give the Bombers a come-from-behind win 34 seconds into overtime.
Matt Brykaliuk had tied the game with his long-awaited first goal of the year with 36 seconds to play, taking a pass from Tyler Kauk off the rush and burying it.
That came near the end of a disappointing third period that saw the Bruins' 2-0 lead crumble in the midst of a story the team has seen far too often this year. The Bombers had lost three straight games and were playing their fourth in five nights.
Brykaliuk said the swing of events from his late equalizer to the winning goal early in overtime was tough to take.
"It's definitely a heartbreaker. All the guys were jacked up and it was a good feeling to score that goal for the whole team, and then we kinda lost it there.
"This whole year, for a few games, we've let leads slip when we play a hard 40 minutes," he added. "If we can just figure out how to play a full 60 then we'll be good."
Austin Yano got the scoring started for the Bruins at 14:19 of the opening period, finding the back of the net on a point shot on the power play.
Tanner Froese extended the lead at 16:39 of the second, taking a soft cross-ice pass from Austin Daae and flicking it upstairs from the goalmouth.
"We stressed over and over to go out there and continue to do what we were doing, because I thought we were having a reasonably good game playing in their zone and putting pucks on net. We know they're a dangerous team. We can't let our foot off the gas at all," said Bruins head coach and general manager Keith Cassidy.
But that plan quickly went awry three minutes into the third when goalie Curtis Martinu misplayed the puck, giving Bombers rookie Brett Boehm a mostly open net for his ninth of the year.
"That first goal, I don't know if that's a brain cramp or what that is, but we can't give away goals like that," said Cassidy. "It's unfortunate for Marty that that happened, but I think that bit us in the ass. That alters the mindset of what we're doing and away we go. But I can't fault him, I thought he had a hell of a game."
Cole McCaig tied it at 11:45 when he tipped a Danys Chartrand shot five-hole.
"The next goal was one where there was a waved off icing. Then (Martinu)'s thinking twice about going to play the puck, and he doesn't, and we get pinned in our zone and they score," said Cassidy.
"I think then we got a little timid, a big sense of 'oh no, here we go again' and we gotta be mentally stronger than that. Those are good guys in there and they believe in themselves, but it's hard to hear the same thing over and over again, it's almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy at this particular point," he added.
It only took 71 seconds for the surging Bombers to grab the lead, when Greg Wiwcharuk hit Yano behind the net, took the puck and sent it out front to Penner for the shot.
The Bruins outshot the Bombers (9-3) 38-31.
Cassidy said the overtime winner took its toll on an already mentally fragile group.
"We dealt with a situation, we went out there and got it tied up, that showed some good mental toughness. Then we go out there and have that happen — right after we got a glorious scoring opportunity at their end, it comes back and boom, it's in our net. It's a tough thing to swallow."
The Bruins managed to bounce back the next day against their bunkmates in the conference basement, the Red Wings (3-10).
Rookie winger Darcy DeRoose scored his first of the year to start things off eight minutes into the first period.
The Bruins added to their lead about four minutes into the second on a goal by Cole Olson.
Former Bruin Ryan Ostertag responded only 23 seconds later though, with his first of two goals on the night.
Froese got the goal back before the period was up, restoring the two-goal edge with under two minutes to play before the buzzer.
Nick Weiss gave the Bruins a little more insurance with a goal 13 seconds into the third, and he added another tally at the 13:13 mark.
Ostertag's second marker came 25 seconds later, but the Wings couldn't muster up a comeback bid.
Shots on goal were 23 apiece.
The Bruins are back in action on Friday when they host the Battlefords North Stars. Game time is 7:30 p.m.