Although the teddy bears came down in droves early in the second period, they and the home team couldn’t prevent a 5-1 loss by the Power Dodge Estevan Bruins to the Humboldt Broncos Thursday night at Affinity Place.
With the loss, the Bruins suffer a season sweep by the Broncos, who have the best record in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
“I feel like sometimes we outwork them but they never get down on themselves and never give up,” said Bruins forward Isaiah Thomas.
The Bruins went down 2-0 in the first period on goals by Derek Patter and Drew Warkentine and although they wobbled, they held the Broncos in check for most of the rest of the next two periods. In a scramble in front of Humboldt goaltender Dane Dow, Thomas scored for the Bruins at 3:08 of the second period to get the teddy bears flying onto the ice.
“I took a look at the goalie and I realized he wasn’t in a position to make a save so I just put anything I could on it and luckily it went in,” said Thomas.
The Broncos held tough through the rest of the period until Warkentine scored his second of the game by sliding a puck underneath Bruins goaltender Grant Boldt to make it 3-1. Patter scored shorthanded at 4:44 of the third period to effectively beat any reasonable chance the Bruins had at a comeback.
“I thought we’d played pretty good hockey up until then despite the score being 4-1,” said Bruins head coach and general manager Chris Lewgood. “Four to one against that team is tough to come back from but at that point the momentum really shifted and our guys seemed to lose focus and start feeling sorry for themselves a little bit.”
Brayden Camrud rounded out the scoring for the Broncos at 10:50 of the third period.
“We’ve showed a bit of immaturity lately and I think that got the better of us today,” Lewgood said. We’re in a bit of a hole here. We want to win a division, we want to win a league title. We’ve got a lot of work to do to make up some ground. Tonight was a bit of an example of that.
Boldt stopped 18 of 23 shots in the loss.
The Bruins will have the weekend off but return to the road starting Tuesday in Nipawin and continuing to Wednesday in La Ronge and Friday in Flin Flon.
“We need to stop talking so much and just show it,” said Thomas. “We need to play for each other. We need to be a team and we just need to put our work boots on and go to work.”
Lewgood said he will have to change gears find ways to get a little bit more out of the players.
“As a coach, you’ve got to be proactive and we’ve been real patient,” said Lewgood. “But it’s at the point now where it’s going to start looking like inactivity and we’ve got to change our tune a little bit…
“We had a little bit of a talk after the game and I’m excited about some of the comments from the guys. That being said… it’s not about talking, it’s about going out and doing it. There’s going to be a level of accountability that these guys probably aren’t familiar with that is going to come into play.”
With Dec. 1’s deadline for cards just around the corner – and the Bruins hovering right at the 25 maximum they can have – major deals aren’t likely around the corner. Lewgood said he still believes in the core of this team.
“The answers are within our group,” said Lewgood. “We’re going to do some things differently from a coaching standpoint and we’re going to some things differently from an accountability standpoint. The players, as far as (with) personnel, there’s not going to be a big overhaul. This team is better than our record and you’re going to see some additions and maybe some subtractions. Nothing to affect the core of our team.
“Our long term goal is still to be an SJHL champion and maybe it’s only 30 of us inside our organization that believe that’s realistic but we still believe it and I’m not going to stray from the plan.”