The Estevan Bears 18U AAA hockey team put a three-game skid behind them like droppings in the woods by edging a tough Swift Current Legionnaires team 5-4 in a shootout Friday and 5-4 in regulation Saturday.
Swift Current entered the contest with eight wins in 12 games. Estevan is now up to 5-9-4 this season, and head coach/general manager Jeff Smith said they're improving every game.
"I thought we played 60 minutes for both games, which we struggled in the first part of the season to do. The players are growing every game and they're playing better and better every game. To finally get four points this weekend is huge for their development."
Defenceman Boston Harkness was the difference maker throughout the weekend.
He had a goal and an assist Friday before scoring two buzzer beaters Saturday. The first of the late-period goals put Estevan ahead 4-3 with nine seconds left in the second period. The second was the game winner with 17 seconds left in the game.
Estevan outshot Swift Current 24-19 Friday, but was outshot 42-26 Saturday.
Smith said they played tight defensively despite giving up eight goals over two games.
"It was our game plan to try to limit them from having high-quality scoring chances. Just playing good solid defensive hockey and strong defensive mindsets going into the game. We did allow four goals each game, but at the same time, I thought two goals per game kind of went off a shin pad or skate. Those ones you can't really defend against, or teach how to defend against. All in all, I think the goals we did give them, they did earn. And they did a good job of containing their high-powered offence."
Next is another defensive test for Estevan, with the 9-3-1 Notre Dame Hounds set to prowl into Estevan on Sunday. Notre Dame boasts three of the top-seven scorers in the SMAAAHL in Ethan Look, Ishan Mittoo-Khulbe, and Cole Wirun.
"Notre Dame is again another high-powered offensive team," Smith said. "You have to take the time and space away. We just kind of have to play our chip-and-grind kind of role and just finish all our checks on them. The skilled players don't really like to get the body taken on them, so if we can chip it past their 'D,' which I think is their weak point - which they don't really have much weak, but if I had to pick something it would be their defencemen. So if we can get on their 'D' quick and early it's going to be good for us."
The game is at Affinity Place at 3:30 p.m.