Bigger. Meaner. Harder.

That's the mantra that head coach Jason Tatarnic will follow for the upcoming Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League season. The schedule for 2024-2025 has been released and the black and gold are preparing for what could be a tumultuous year. 

"We're building our team and, you know, we're looking forward to it. We think we've added some nice pieces; some younger players and I think we're a little bit of a bigger team this year than we were last year. We've added some size to our team. We want to be a team that's a little bit harder to play against this year, getting back to our championship year and the year after that." 

The Bruins fought hard for their spot in the post-season last year. Riddled with injuries and with captain Keagon Little being handed a five-game suspension heading into the playoffs, the team persevered. They fell short in their first-round series with the Melfort Mustangs 4-1. "I thought last year, we were a good hockey team, but we just weren't hard enough to play against that time. In this league, you have to be hard to play against to be successful in the playoffs, and that's just the way it is," Tatarnic noted. 

During the off-season, the black and gold looked to add more depth to their roster. One of the notable transactions the team made was with Bryton Morrow. Hailing from Sherwood Park, Alberta and nabbed from the Princeton Posse, the 6'5" 190-pound forward is someone that Tatarnic wants to develop in Estevan. "He has good hands. He's a 19 year old this year. This player is like, I think, we've had some kids have some skill and they have a high work ethic," the coach shared. 

 

"I think we want to go right through up front and on the back end. You know, we just want to get a little bit bigger, a little bit meaner. Right now, there's three goalies that are still our property and we brought a goaltender that's about 6-foot seven [...] so we have some big fixed-size goaltenders in the net this year, so yeah. We just want to get bigger everywhere."

SJHL opens up the season this year on September 20 with five games on the go, which includes Estevan. Their first contest this year is with the Melville Millionaires for a doubleheader weekend. Tatarnic shared that the Mills are quite the contest to start with. 

"They're [a] real, real hard-working team. They skate well, they pressure the puck. They're going to be on you real quick, so you have to be prepared to battle and be ready for a hard-fought game because they work extremely hard. That's what you expect from a Don Johnson team, so we'll have to be ready for it." 

Bigger. Meaner. Harder. That's what the black and gold is aiming for in the 2024-25 season. Whether they live up to that mantra remains to be seen until the puck drops in the fall. The full schedule for the Estevan Bruins can be found here.