There were reasons to be optimistic, but in the end, the Estevan Apex Bruins couldn't knock off the Moose Jaw Warriors in their South Saskatchewan Minor Hockey League semifinal series.
A 7-2 loss to the Warriors on Saturday in Game 2 of the series gave Moose Jaw the sweep and marked the end of the Bruins' season.
The opener on Thursday in Moose Jaw was much closer, with the home side eking out a 4-3 victory.
Apex Bruins head coach Dalton Giblett said one of the reasons they were swept by the fourth-place Warriors is that they didn't take advantage of their scoring chances.
"I think we didn't score on our opportunities. There'd be times where we would have pressure on them and be outworking them and we couldn't score, and they'd come down and score one on us," he said.
"Between that and the number of penalties we took, you just can't do that and expect to win hockey games, especially at this time of year."
In Thursday's game, the teams were tied 3-3 after two periods before Moose Jaw got the winner from Braydon Delorme with 8:58 to play.
The Bruins struck first, with Steven Henderson scoring only two minutes into the game.
But the Warriors responded with three goals before the end of the frame.
Blake Crosbie tied the game with a power-play marker at 8:29, and Riley Cannon would give Moose Jaw their first lead 72 seconds later.
The Warriors took a two-goal lead when Ty Anderson scored a shorthanded goal at 16:53.
The Bruins would pull even in the second period though, beginning with Ryley Giblett's goal at 13:51.
Estevan netted a shorthanded tally of their own from Kaelan Holt at the 18:37 mark, levelling the game 3-3.
Moose Jaw outshot Estevan 35-23. Tanner Tytlandsvik was in goal for the Bruins.
It was a different story on Saturday at Spectra Place, with the Warriors dominating the second half of the game.
They got on the board first, with Drew Nimegeers scoring at 7:41 of the first.
Marc Shaw, who was the league's regular season goals leader with 29, tied it up on a power play midway through the period.
Kaleb Bell restored Moose Jaw's lead with just four seconds left in the period.
Despite the Bruins creating some good chances early in the second period, the Warriors would score the next goal nine minutes in, courtesy of Braydon Delorme, on a quick play off the face-off.
Giblett said that goal turned the tide for good.
"I think (in) the first part of the game, nerves got the best of us. Then in the second period, we took it to them at the start and we couldn't score and then they come down and score. Once they got that third goal, that broke our backs right there. You could kind of see it on the bench too," he said.
The visitors would score their third of four power-play goals on the night at 14:02 of the second, when Cannon snuck the puck in at the side of the net.
And the Warriors didn't stop there, with Brett Bookout scoring only 17 seconds into the third to put them ahead 5-1.
The Bruins got one goal back at 5:36 courtesy of Kyle Salaway, after he tapped in a pass by Tanner Jeannot from the corner.
But the Warriors would tack on two more goals. Delorme scored his second of the game at 9:06 on a backhander top shelf, and Crosbie closed out the scoring at 11:29 after a Bruins giveaway along the boards.
The team will lose six players due to graduation.
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