A lengthy playoff run capped by a league championship appears to be just what the doctor ordered for the Estevan Bruins after a global pandemic took its toll on junior hockey teams across Canada.
A sold out crowd at Affinity Place last Friday night witnessed the Bruins win their first SJHL title since 1999 after defeating the Flin Flon Bombers in a marathon seven-game series.
"I had never seen Affinity like that, so it was amazing," said team president Josh Biggs. "Just a big thank you to the community for the support. The 50/50, the fan support was great. It was tremendous to see people show up like that for the Bruins."
The 50/50 total, in particular, reached an outrageous number during game seven of the championship series.
"It was insane. A $131,000 50/50 total pot. And the winner took home $65,000, so a great night for that guy," Biggs said.
After a season plagued by smaller crowds, the Bruins had a total of nine playoff dates through out the post-season, all on Friday and Saturday nights, which brought in a ton of revenue, particularly with huge crowds during games five and seven of the finals against Flin Flon.
"It's going to be huge financially," Biggs said. "It definitely takes a lot of money to run this hockey team, and the community came out and supported us and now we're in a spot to do that. And just build the franchise, and hopefully build a dynasty with a history of success."
Affinity Place will now be transformed as it gets set to host the 2022 Centennial Cup national Junior A championship, which runs May 19-29. Revenue generated from that event will be put towards a new digital score clock at the rink, which could become a reality as early as next season, Biggs said.
"I think that's going to be a great asset for the city, a great asset for the Bruins, but also other user groups too like minor hockey, figure skating, even concerts, anything like that. Anything at Affinity is going to be able to use that screen," he said.