The last time the Estevan Bruins faced the Melville Millionaires at home, their defense was the story in a 6-0 win. This time, their defense grabbed headlines again, limiting the Millionaires to just 15 shots in a closer but still triumphant performance.
Tristyn DeRoose scored the game winner on the power play and Kadin Kilpatrick posted his second shutout in seven days as the Bruins overwhelmed Melville in a 2-0 win. Only the play of Berk Berkeliev, who was stellar with 47 saves, kept the score manageable.
"It's a commitment to defensive hockey," said Bruins head coach and GM Chris Lewgood of his team surrendering under 20 shots yet again. "All five guys need to play defense, not just your defensemen and your goalie. We've done a good job being responsible with the puck and working hard away from it. When you do that, when you match the other teams work ethic, it comes down to skill and ability to finish, and we had a little more than they did."
The Bruins have come against numerous hot goaltenders this season, and Berkeliev was the latest. Through the first half of the game he was excellent, stopping Jayden Davis on a shorthanded breakaway and Tanner Manz on a break at even strength.
It took a strange goal to finally solve the young Melville netminder. On the power play, Michael McChesney took a shot from the top of the left circle that deflected off the shinpad of DeRoose, who was setting a screen, and in. It was DeRoose's seventh of the campaign.
"I plant myself in front of that net," DeRoose said. "I kind of make it my home and I take pride in it. McChesney had a lot of time there and he just walked in and ripped one off my shinpad. I'll take that."
DeRoose has shown a penchant for scoring goals that have gone off his body. His first as a Bruin nearly cost him some teeth as it went in off his visor, and the trend has continued. "That's how I score my goals," he said. "Like I said, I take pride in that."
The Millionaires never really mounted an effective counter, and only Berkeliev standing on his head prevented the Bruins from running away with it. "We've seen it probably 15 times this year," Lewgood said, "a whole quarter of our season where we've dominated games and ended up winning by a goal or losing by a goal. You get a good hot goaltender and you're squeezing your stick a bit and that will happen."
Melville struggled to clear their zone as the seconds ticked down, finally getting Berkeliev out of the net, only for Will Koop to send Johnny Witzke in alone to ice the game.
The Bruins move to 26-21-2-1 on the year, and retain first place in the Viterra Division. They meet the Millionaires for a rematch Saturday night in Melville.
A loss by the Yorkton Terriers on the night means the Bruins move four points up on them for first spot in the Viterra Division. The Bruins must win outright, as Yorkton holds the season series.
Kadin Kilpatrick posted his second shutout in seven days. He leads the Bruins in that category now with two, and leads all rookies as well.
Johnny Witzke's goal was his twelfth of the year, setting a new career high. He leads the SJHL in goals by a defender.
This is the second time on the season the Bruins have more than tripled their opponents shot total. They have not given up a goal in either game. They lead the league in shots taken, while giving up the fewest against.