When the Estevan Midget AA Bruins take to the ice at Affinity Place at 7:30 on Friday, March 8, they'll be in familiar territory. For what will be the fourth time in eight playoff games, they'll have an elimination game on their hands.
The Bruins are down 2-0 in their semi-final series with the Swift Current Broncos after dropping two games in Swift Current over the past weekend. The first game, a 4-3 overtime heartbreaker, gave way to a 6-0 thumping in game two.
"Game one on Saturday was a pretty good effort," said head coach Riley Hengen. "It was close the whole way. We had three goals in the third period there. We continued to come back and force it into overtime and had a couple of chances in overtime including a breakaway. We were a couple of bounces away from getting off to a pretty good start."
The second game was a lot more decisive, however, as the Broncos put the pedal down, outshooting the Bruins 53-26 and steadily piling on before potting three goals in the third period on 19 shots.
"We knew how close we were there in game one," Hengen said. "I think we might've given them a bit of a wakeup call. I think the shots in the first period were 20-5 or something like that. They came out flying and we couldn't match their intensity."
Hengen admited that while he was pleased with the way team handled the first game against an unbeaten foe, moral victories count for little in the postseason. Now the Bruins are tasked with coming down from 2-0 and winning their next three games. It may seem a tall order, but the Bruins have done it before, beating Notre Dame 3-2 in round one by rattling off three straight victories.
"We've had success this year in elimination games," Hengen said. "We're 3-0. If there's anything to lean on it's that experience. And there's similarities between playing Notre Dame and Swift, but Swift is on another level so although we've done it in the past it's still a big challenge in front of us. But we said it last round, we've got to win the game in front of us. We're not going to win three games Friday night."
As the playoffs have progressed, the fan support for the Bruins has steadily grown. Hengen is hoping to see it at its peak for Friday night.
"The first game (of the playoffs) was probably the biggest crowd of the year, and then as the series went on it just got bigger and bigger. Game three and five, especially game five, we had quite a few fans there. It definitely gets the boys going, you can feel the excitement on the bench. We expect that to continue this weekend and it definitely benefits us."