It was a case of good news, bad news for the Estevan Bruins on Friday, March 1 in Weyburn. On the one hand, they rallied late to tie the score against the Red Wings and force overtime. The point they gained, coupled with a loss by the Yorkton Terriers, earned the Bruins their third straight Viterra Division title.
On the other hand, the Bruins couldn’t close out the game in overtime. Ben Hiltz scored the winning goal, despite appearing to be offside, and scored in regulation, while Cody Levesque made 40 saves as the Red Wings held off the Bruins for a 4-3 win. Will Koop scored twice and Tyson Manz scored once for Estevan.
Koop began the scoring early in the game, taking a drop pass from Michael McChesney and sniping one high-glove on Levesque just 1:06 in. But the Red Wings scored twice in just 26 seconds, one a redirect by Hiltz, one a shot from in close by Drew Anderson, to take the lead.
A fore-check by Cody Davis later in the first forced a turnover that came out front to Manz, who wired home his fourth of the year to tie it. Despite furious Bruins pressure in the second, Levesque stood tall and the Red Wings found the only goal, with Jacob Piller taking a feed from Dawson McKenzie from behind the Bruins net and lifting it past Grant Boldt for the 3-2 lead.
The Bruins turned up the pressure in the third, but for a time it seemed the Red Wings lead would hold. With less than a minute to go and the net empty, Jake Heerspink spotted Koop at the side of the net and hit him with a slap pass. Koop took advantage of bedlam in the Weyburn crease and wasted no time snapping home his 12thof the year. Overtime was in the cards for the first time between the two teams this season.
Both teams took their turn with the puck in the extra frame. One shot by Heerspink even knocked the stick from Levesque’s grip, but no Bruin could get to the rebound. Finally, Hiltz took a stretch pass and walked in alone, opening up Boldt’s five-hole and slipping a backhander home. The Bruins were furious, as Hiltz appeared to be offside. The Bruins video recording of the game appeared to show him cross the line well before the puck, but the goal was allowed to stand.
With the point gained, however, the Bruins are Viterra Division champions for the third straight season. They fall to 7-2 on the year against the Red Wings. The rematch is Saturday, March 2 at Affinity Place at 7:30. Catch that game on Rock 106.
Cody Davis picked up an assist on Tyson Manz’s first period goal. He now has two goals and two assists in two SJHL games played.
Will Koop’s two goals give him 12 goals and 29 points in 25 games. He leads eligible Bruins skaters in points per game at 1.16.