A hot start by the under-18 Estevan Apex Bruins in the Saskatchewan AA Hockey League finals Friday night would put them in good position to hoist a championship on home ice.
Estevan, coming off Monday's 4-1 series-clinching victory over the Regina Vics, visits the Saskatoon Riverkings to open the best-of-three league and provincial final.
The Bruins are the top seed, so they'll get home ice for Game 2 and, if needed, Game 3.
"We would be very good shape," said Bruins head coach Ryan Curzon, on the prospect of taking a road victory. "Steal one in Saskatoon and then have two opportunities to close it out at home in front of all the fans and supporters."
Saskatoon is coming off a 3-1 series win in the Centre 4 Hockey League final over the Warman Wildcats. The Riverkings' power play was a big part of their postseason success, operating at a 29.31-per-cent clip.
"They have a younger team," said Curzon. "They have an incredible power play, I've been told. But defensively, I think we can expose them."
The Bruins power play has also been effective during the playoffs, at 24.19 per cent.
Estevan's had the stronger penalty kill (91.67 per cent, compared to Saskatoon's 86.67 per cent). When you add each team's special teams percentages together, the contrast is minimal. Estevan's power play and penalty kill add up to 115.86. The Riverkings are 115.98.
"In this league, power play makes all the difference," said Curzon. "If you can stay disciplined, capitalize on the power play, and kill off a few penalties, then your team usually succeeds."
Curzon said the message to the team is to play hard between the whistles and not talk to the refs.
Game 2 will be at Affinity Place 7:45 p.m. Sunday. A third game would be at 7 p.m. Monday at Affinity.