By Craig Stein
3-1 leads for Hawks & Broncos
The Estevan Bruins are on to the SJHL’s final four as they completed a four game sweep of the Kindersley Klippers with a 3-2 decision on Wednesday.
Bo Didur was the story of the series for the Bruins. He made 32 saves on 34 shots on Wednesday, after Tuesday’s 28-save shutout. He stopped 50/52 (.966%) in the two games in Kindersley and 102/107 (.953%) in the four game series sweep.
Offensively, Michael McChesney opened the scoring on Wednesday, while Jake Fletcher and Kaelan Holt each had a goal and an assist.
In their final Junior ‘A’ hockey games, 20-year-olds Nik Malenica (1g-1a) and Tanner Thompson did the scoring for the Klippers. Malenica had five points (2g-3a) in the series, and finished his junior career with points in 18 of his last 19 games (10g-16a-26p) going back to the regular season, which he finished with a 14-game streak.
Justen Close made 22/25 saves.
Teams are re-seeded by regular season points in the Semi-Finals, regardless of division winners. The Bruins finished with the 4th most points overall, behind Melfort and ahead of Humboldt.
It took another half an hour or so, but the Battlefords North Stars also joined Estevan in the Semi-Finals on Wednesday, and there’s a chance they could meet there again for a second straight year.
Rookie Elijah Loon-Stewardson scored 9:30 into overtime and the Stars won a tight 3-2 (OT) decision over the Red Wings in Game 4.
The Stars never led until the OT winner, as Ben Hiltz opened the scoring at 6:04 of the first period for Weyburn, and Cade Kowalski made it 2-1 Wings at 9:20 of the third. The Stars answered both times as Brad Girard made it 1-1 3:35 after the opener, and it took Layne Young just 19 seconds to tie things up in the third.
Arik Weersink nearly stole Game 4 for the Wings, as the Stars out-shot Weyburn 55-24. Weersink made 52/55 saves and Joel Gryzbowski turned away 22/24 in goal for the Stars.
The North Stars will host Games 1 & 2 of the Semi-Finals next weekend. If Humboldt and Nipawin are able to close out their 3-1 series leads, the Stars would face Estevan in the Semis for a second straight year while Nipawin would tangle with Humboldt.
Should Nipawin win and Melfort come back, it would be Nipawin-Estevan / Battlefords-Melfort. If Flin Flon comes back from 3-1 down, they’d play Battlefords regardless of who wins Humboldt/Melfort, meaning that series winner would get Estevan.
Brayden Camrud scored 1:38 into overtime, and the Humboldt Broncos took care of home ice with a huge 3-2 (OT) win over the Melfort Mustangs, lifting them to a 3-1 series lead.
The game featured three lead changes as Nick Shumlanski got the Broncos on the board with his third goal and eighth point of the series. Colin Schmidt then scored back to back goals in the second and early in the third as the Mustangs took the lead. Defenseman Stephen Wack tied things up with 2:33 to play in regulation, before Camrud’s early overtime winner.
Parker Tobin made 27/29 saves in his second straight win, while Evan Plotnik made 35/38 stops for Melfort.
The two teams get an extra day off, as Game 5 goes Saturday night in Melfort.
Brandan Arnold and Brett Harasymuk each had two goals and an assist to lead the Nipawin Hawks over the Flin Flon Bombers 5-2 on the road. That gives the Hawks a 3-1 series lead heading home for Game 5 on Friday.
Arnold is now tied for the league lead in playoff goals (6) and has the outright lead with 10 points in just four games.
Jake Tremblay added a goal and an assist in the Game 4 win, and Declan Hobbs made 38/40 saves, as the Bombers out-shot Nipawin 40-33.
Just like Game 2 in Nipawin, Bomber defenseman Isaac Jackson opened the scoring, but Flin Flon went on to lose. Tyler Nyman made it a 3-2 game just 58 seconds into the third period before the Hawks tacked on a pair of late ones.