The Estevan Power Dodge Bruins had a flat first period and a few second-period lapses in a 4-1 loss to the Weyburn Red Wings at Crescent Point Place on New Year's Day.
The Bruins defeat came on the heels of a 4-2 win over the Red Wings (17-16-1-4) in the first game of the teams' annual home-and-home New Year's showdown at Affinity Place on Friday. Unlike the opening game where the Bruins jumped ahead 3-0 in the first 30 minutes on markers by Kaelan Holt, Michael McChesney and Johnny Witzke, the Red Wings got on the board first in the second tilt with Braden Mellon beating Bruins netminder Curtis Meger 23 seconds into the opening period.
Witzke tied the contest on the power play a little over six minutes later only to have Red Wings' Jamieson Ree, Donavon Lumb and Cole Woodliffe reply in the middle frame. The four goals allowed on 30 first-half shots spelled the end for Meger who was pulled for Nathan Alalouf.
“We had a couple of bad breakdowns and we just hung him out to dry,” said Bruins assistant captain Jake Fletcher, noting the goalie change did have the desired effect of sparking the team. “We realized we had to get into the game and we played a lot better after that. We kept them to (zero) goals after that and played pretty even. Then their goalie (Carter Phair) stood on his head too, which helped them quite a bit.”
Kyle Mulligan, assistant coach of the Bruins, said neither team looked real good in their second contest after a two-week break for the holidays, but the Red Wings put up a better fight and made sure the bounces were going their way. He said the Bruins struggled to earn second and third scoring opportunities in Weyburn and they have to battle a bit harder to create chances.
“You can't be one shot wonders in this league,” said Mulligan. “You've got to have some grit and some grind in front of the net and you've got to be willing to go through a whack and a hack to get to the net to get to a loose puck (and) we didn't have a whole lot of that.”
The Bruins (25-12-0-1) are back in action this Friday when the club welcomes the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's top ranked Battlefords North Stars (30-7) to Affinity Place. The Black and Gold hold a 2-1 advantage over the North Stars this season winning 4-3 and 8-6 in North Battleford and losing 10-3 at home.
“We know they're probably the best team in our league, but we're looking forward to it,” said Fletcher. “We know we can beat them. We've done it before and I think all the guys are really amped up to get going for that one.”