By Craig Stein
In a true “last goal wins” matchup on Sunday, the Estevan Bruins scored last, in an 8-7 overtime victory in Melfort.
The two teams matched each other with two goals each in the first period, two more in the second, and three more each in the third, before Bruins’ defenseman Josh Rieger scored the winner 1:46 into the extra frame, making it six straight wins for Estevan, and three in as many nights on a three game northern swing. The Bruins won all three games on the trip by a goal, in fact their last five wins have all been one-goal decisions, with three of them decided in overtime or a shootout.
After the Mustangs and Bruins went back and forth with multiple lead changes on Sunday, Melfort needed a heroic late comeback, with Tanner Zentner and Miles Warkentine both scoring the final minute to force overtime.
There were, predictably, big individual performances in a 15-goal outburst between the two teams. Kaelan Holt took back the SJHL league-lead in goals, scoring twice, giving him 16 in 18 games, and added one assist. Holt had seven goals all of last season. Jason Miller also scored twice, while both Lynnden Pastachak and Matt McNeil had a goal and two assists. Michael McChesney opened the scoring just 27 seconds into the game.
Melfort’s Kalem Zary had the best night on either side, racking up five points with a goal and four assists. Zentner had a pair of goals and one assist, while Warketine’s game-tying goal with 16 seconds left was also his second of the night. Dakota Boutin added a goal and two assists, and Rock Rushkowski rounded out the scoring. The Mustangs (5-10-1-2) went 2/8 on the powerplay and scored a short-handed goal.
The Bruins (14-3-0-1) are all of a sudden tied for the league lead in wins (Hum/Bat), and in points (29) with Humboldt, and hold the league’s best winning percentage at .806%. This from a team who finished middle-of-the-pack a year ago while hosting the Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup and then lost the bulk of that roster and had many outside of their locker room expecting a rebuild.