After a bit of a stumble over the weekend, the Estevan Bruins are looking to nab the next two games at home. 

The black and gold fell to the Melfort Mustangs in both Games 1 and 2. Friday saw the Bruins be dominated with a 5-1 result. Saturday was a better output, but ultimately, Estevan still lost with a score of 7-4. 

"I think if you were to look at it from a purely results purely statistical standpoint, I think fair enough -  it was a rough week. Obviously, in the playoffs you know, good performances follow victories. I don't think the Bruins played that badly," shared Bruins play-by-play host Jamie Neugebauer. 

While there's no slouch on the Estevan net-minders Jackson Miller and Wyatt Bouvier, Jamie noted that the real challenge that the Bruins have to overcome is the Mustangs' goalie James Venne. 

"James Venne is a kid that won over 30 games in the league. Yes, they're a good team. Yes, they're well-coached, but he did a lot to earn them those 30-plus wins. It's a tough situation, but the fact of the matter is James Venne is [the Bruins'] prohibitive #1. He's certainly one of the best in the league. He showed that in Games 1 and 2."

"Goaltending has to be great, has to be good. If it's not good, you're not gonna win a playoff series. It's always a big factor - and James Venne was a huge factor for Melfort winning Games 1 and 2." -Neugebauer on goaltending in the SJHL playoffs. 

Miller has been in between the pipes for the last 15 games, Neugebauer added, and he's not faulting the 19-year-old goalie for some fatigue. 

"Obviously it's hard to win when you give up twelve goals in two games. They have confidence going into Game 3. Obviously, it's a precarious situation now given that they've lost those two in Melfort. They haven't lost in 11 straight now in the league and, you know, they're a juggernaut. They're probably playing the best hockey of any team in the league. Not a huge surprise, but also no reason to panic right now for this event." 

Three Keys for the Bruins

Finish their scoring chances when they appear

"They out-chanced Melfort in terms of good scoring chances. The shot clock is one thing, but I look at good scoring chances and I'd say the Bruins probably had a few more and they let a few of them go wanting so, you know, finish some of your chances."

Maintaining the momentum

Neugebauer recalled the fire that the team had in the last period of Game 2, where the Bruins were able to claw back from a 5-1 deficit and had some pucks behind James Venne. "Play like you did in that because honestly, they dominated the Mustangs in Game 2, period 3. Try to find a way to play more than 25-30 minutes in the game. The Mustangs just need you to stop paying attention for 5 minutes and you're in trouble."

Limiting the big break-downs

Jamie noted that there weren't a lot of mistakes on the Bruins side, but the ones that showed up cost them big. "Couple of the Melfort goals were guys kind of going end to end and making a play off the rush. We've seen Jason Tatarnic coach his team really well deep in the playoffs. He knows what to say and we've seen the Bruins play really, really good defensive hockey at Affinity Place this year."

"Obviously there's urgency, but it's not over because it's 2-0. There's lots to play for, and the Bruins have a lot of hope. There's the old cliche: 'You're not in trouble in the playoffs season 'til you lose at home.' That's maybe more true for the Estevan Bruins than any other team because in the last couple of years, especially with Tatarnic, Affinity Place has been a fortress - a real tough place for any team to come play through," Neugebauer shared. 

Games 2 and 3 will be at Affinity place for March 26 and 27. Puck drop is slated for 7:00pm