Four different defencemen scored for the Power Dodge Estevan Bruins in their decisive 6-0 win over the Melville Millionaires Friday at Affinity Place.
One of those defencemen – Kade McMillen – scored his first two goals in regulation in his Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League career, in what Bruins head coach and general manager Chris Lewgood feels will be the first of many.
“There’s no question Kade is an offensive defenceman,” said Lewgood. “The numbers don’t show it right now but he’s gong to be a leader in our league and amongst the statistical leaders in our league throughout his career. He’s going to be a key part of our power play but he’s also responsible player.”
Forward Jayden Davis opened the scoring at 4:19 for the Bruins by accepting a feed from Tom Sweeney and going hard to the net. From there it was all defencemen scoring, starting with McMillen’s first career marker at 8:06 of the first.
“It feels great,” said McMillen, who scored a shootout winner a couple of weeks ago but didn’t officially have a goal next to his name in regulation. “I’ve been waiting a while for that one and I finally got one.”
Austin King-Cunningham scored from the point that got through 25 seconds after McMillen’s, and then McMillen got his second goal at 17:27 of the first when he snuck in from the point and got a good feed from Eddie Gallagher.
“It was a nice pass from Eddie where he found me in the seam,” said McMIllen. “I just saw top corner and I just put it where I saw it. I didn’t even know it went in, I thought it went off the crossbar and then I saw Rooster (Tristyn DeRoose) coming to give me a hug.”
Jake Heerspink and Johnny Witzke scored for the Bruins in the second period to round out the scoring.
“Their D is really aggressive in the offensive zone,” said Lewgood. “But what happens is you generate offense through your weak-side defencemen and if their D are aggressive then we can break out that same side by sending a winger over and that allows a defenceman to take his spot along the far wall. I know that contributed to at least two of them.”
Lewgood also felt his defencemen were seizing opportunities to jump in the play.
The large number of goals from defencemen raised eyebrows but the more eye-opening stat was the 12 shots allowed by the Bruins. Grant Boldt stopped all of them for his first career SJHL shutout.
“I thought we did really well in our backcheck principles,” said Lewgood. “We knew who we’re to go to and communicated really well on the backcheck and worked really hard at it. I think we’ve been working hard 200 feet but sometimes we’re making poor decisions. In this case here I thought we executed really well.”
The Bruins’ next action is Saturday night in Canora against the Yorkton Terriers. The Bruins have a four point lead on Yorkton in the Viterra Division standings but the Terriers have five games in hand.