Bruins battle for last roster spots in final pair of pre-season games

The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League regular season begins Wednesday when the Humboldt Broncos take on the Nipawin Hawks, but for the Power Dodge Estevan Bruins it can’t come soon enough.

The Bruins lost 5-1 to the Minot Minotauros of the North American Hockey League Monday and 5-4 in overtime to the Weyburn Red Wings Saturday to close out their exhibition season.

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“In a junior hockey season, you’ve got to have a short memory,” said Turner Ripplinger, who picked up an assist on the only Bruin goal of the game. “It’s a long season and a lot of nights here. It’s all about putting it behind us. Learning from our mistakes but making the best of them and taking it forward.

The Minotauros’ Taylor Lantz scored 55 seconds into the game on a delayed penalty and played most of the game with a puck on a string, resulting in a frustrating game for the Bruins. Andrew Kangas scored twice, Lantz added another and Fritz Belisle scored a single in a game that Minot was never really out of control.

George Cathers scored on a second period power play to bring Estevan to within one but the Bruins never got an equalizer and Minot scored thrice in the third.

Matt Lukacs stopped 34 of 39 shots from Minot, while Reid Waszcenko and Nicholas Grabko stopped a combined 20 of 21 shots in the Minotauros’ net.

The Bruins played from behind most of the game Saturday in their exhibition game against the Weyburn Red Wings, which ended up costing them in the end.

Bruins’ veteran Michael McChesney scored shorthanded with 40 seconds left in regulation but Cole DeKoninck of Weyburn scored in overtime 50 seconds in on the same penalty kill to give Weyburn the win.

“It’s just something we can use to not do once the season starts,” said McChesney. “Obviously it’s early and we’re trying to find some chemistry through lines and just trying to do the little things the right way. (Saturday) showed that when you don’t do the little things, the big things don’t happen.”

Isaiah Thomas scored two in the game for the Bruins, and Eddie Gallagher added a single goal to round out the Bruins’ scoring. Rookie defenceman Kade McMillen picked up a pair of assists. Kadin Kilpatrick stopped 19 shots for the Bruins in the loss.

In player movement news, the Bruins acquired the rights to a goaltender from the Nipawin Hawks.

Jake Anthony, originally from Grande Prairie, played in 32 games for the Hawks last year, earning a league-best 1.94 goals against average and a .929 game percentage as a rookie. Pushed away from the crease by the play of Declan Hobbs, a returning 20-year-old, Anthony wasn’t at Hawks camp this year.

The Bruins were able to get the netminder from the Hawks without giving up any players or future considerations. 

After this weekend’s home and home with the Melville Millionaires, the Bruins have a game Sept. 18 against the Yorkton Terriers at Affinity Place. They then go to Warman to take on the Kindersley Klippers and Humboldt Broncos Sept. 24 and 25 at the SJHL Showcase. 

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