The Centennial Cup host Estevan Bruins (0-1) let two two-goal leads slip away as they fell 5-3 to the Quebec champion Longueuil Collège-Français (1-1) in their tournament opener Friday.
The turning point came at 6:58 of the second period when the Bruins, with a 3-1 lead, failed to score and extend their lead with a long two-minute five-on-three, and ultimately yielded a shorthanded goal off a breakaway near the end of the initial penalty.
Estevan native Alex von Sprecken opened the scoring 1:26 into the contest when his long shot from the left point travelled through a maze of bodies and past a screened Simon Berube in the Longueuil net, and then when Nolan Jones’ point-blast on a Bruins’ power play doubled the lead five-and-a-half minutes later, it appeared as though the hosts might run away with the game.
The Quebec champions worked their power play to perfection to get one back at 12:59, setting up a one-timer from the right circle that gave Estevan goaltender Boston Bilous zero chance, but Eric Houk tapped the Bruins’ third minutes later to re-extend the two-goal advantage after a Longueuil turnover.
The shorthanded goal against in the second period cut the lead to 3-2, and then College burst out the gates in the third with another well-worked power-play marker a mere 35 seconds in to tie it.
Another breakaway for Quebec-league scoring champ Maxime Gagne gave Longueuil its first lead of the Centennial Cup at 14:51 of the final frame, and the danger man sealed the deal with an empty netter with just over a minute left in regulation.
Special teams were central to proceedings as the Bruins went 1-for-5, but allowed Collège-Français two power-play markers, and a shorthanded goal. Longueuil’s power-play now sits at 4-for-8 at the event after they bagged a pair of goals with the man-advantage in their opener Thursday vs. the Brooks Bandits.
The Bruins will not have time to dwell on the loss long as they take on the Ontario Junior Hockey League champion Pickering Panthers (1-0) Saturday night. Longueuil Collège-Français has Saturday off before they battle those same Panthers Sunday.