For the second time this season, the Estevan Bruins split a weekend home-and-home, with a come from behind victory on the road followed by a defeat on home ice.
The Bruins defeated the Humboldt Broncos 3-2 Friday night in Humboldt, but then lost 7-6 in overtime Saturday at Affinity Place.
Friday night’s game saw the Bruins down 1-0 after the first period and 2-1 early in the second. Cole Fonstad scored twice, including the game-winner with 5:14 to play in the third period. Eric Pearce notched Estevan’s other goal.
Tristan Shewchuk and Max Gudnason had Humboldt’s goals.
Emerik Demers stopped 30 shots in the victory.
The following night, the Bruins lead 2-0 in the first period on short-handed goals by Eddie Gallagher and Austin King-Cunningham, but penalty troubles dogged the Bruins for most of the first half of the game. Humboldt scored three power play goals in 5 1/2 minutes late in the first period and early in the second to lead 4-3.
Kade McMillen tallied for the Bruins during a rare 5-on-5 shift early in the second period.
“I understand some of the calls were deserved, some I had a question,” said head coach and general manager Jason Tatarnic.
One of the final penalties for the Bruins was a five-minute cross-checking major assessed to King-Cunningham. Tatarnic noted it was another Bruin who cross-checked the Humboldt player, who fell into King-Cunningham.
“It’s pretty tough to accept getting called when a guy falls into you,” said Tatarnic.
The Bruins had the final four power plays of the game.
Once the game settled down in the second half, the two teams played some entertaining hockey.
Cole Fonstad had a highlight reel goal for the Bruins with 6 1/2 minutes to play in the middle frame, and Gallagher and Pearce also scored on the night. Pearce’s goal 95 seconds into the third forced overtime.
“At five on five, I thought we carried the play, and that’s when the shot clock got even. We have to learn to stop taking some unnecessary penalties, but at the same time, when you’re getting called non stop, and the players get frustrated, they’re only human,” said Tatarnic.
Tristan Shewchuk notched the winner for Humboldt 38 seconds into overtime. It was his second goal of the game.
Logan Kurki had a goal and three assists for the Broncos. Max Gudnason, Stephane Huard Jr., Cody Hough and Doug Scott also scored.
Eric Clark allowed 27 of 33 shots in his regular season debut for the Bruins. He was replaced by Emerik Demers, who stopped four of the five shots he faced in regulation and overtime.
Clark made some nice saves during the game, but Tatarnic said it was a game the starting goalie likely wanted back.
“He’s a young goalie, finding his way, and I think once he learns to use that frame of his, that big frame, he’ll be fine,” said Tatarnic.
Tatarnic is no stranger to Humboldt. He was an assistant coach for the Broncos in the 2004-05 season, and he was the head coach of the Woodstock Slammers team that reached the national Junior A final in 2012 when the tournament was held in Humboldt.
The Bruins have also announced their captain for the 2020-21 season.
Defenceman Austin King-Cunningham, a 20-year-old in his fourth and final season with the Black and Gold, was named the captain Thursday.
“He’s well-respected in that dressing room. He’s proven he’s our leader since day 1 this season. To be honest, it was a pretty easy decision. He’s a vocal guy and he’s a presence, and the players listen to him and they respect him,” said Tatarnic.
The coaching staff selected the captains.
The Bruins have also dealt second-year forward Troy Hamilton to the Waywayseecappo Wolverines for future considerations.
Hamilton was pointless in two games this season, but had 11 goals and 29 points in 41 games played last season.
Tatarnic said the futures will be decided on next year, as the Bruins have an option for what they would like to acquire for 2021-22.