The Estevan Bruins are one of the Sherwood’s top teams despite heading into the Civic Center tonight on a little bit of a slide. Just 4 wins from their last 10 games means the Bruins are now third in the South and could fall even more as Yorkton has games in hand. Offense is obviously not the problem. The Bruins score more than any other team in the league. But they also give up goals at an alarming rate. 116 goals for is the most in the league and 100 goals against is only behind Melfort, Notre Dame and Kindersley.
The Bruins special teams play is also very good. They kill penalties better than anyone in the league and score on the power play better than anyone else. I mentioned this the last time the Stars were set to play the Bruins but Estevan’s goal difference is plus 17 on special teams. The have scored 17 more goals on the power and short handed than they have given up when short handed and on the power play. Their overall goal difference on the season is plus 16. In other words? The Bruins have allowed 1 more goal 5 on 5 than they have scored.
It is definitely a Bruins team with some warts. And it’s now obvious that Coach Keith Cassidy wasn’t happy with his team as he has made several trades of late. Brandon Stone was sent to the Klippers for futures. Jesse Bernard was dealt to Nipawin for Tyler Paslawski and Tyler Poskus. Since those moves? The Bruins haven’t won a game. That slide also coincides with the last time these two teams met.
The Stars picked up a 4-1 win in a game that they played very well. The Bruins have not won since that game. But in all fairness up until last night when they faced Kindersley they were losing to very good teams. (the North Stars and Weyburn) Smith, Olson, Neufeld is one of the best lines in the league. They have incredible special teams and a D that moves the puck well. I don’t think anyone will be taking this Bruins team lightly. They are dangerous no matter what kind of record they have posted of late.
As for the North Stars? Well. What can I say that I didn’t say in my last post? It is getting hard to describe how good this team has been so far this year. The standings tell the story though. The Stars have a 7 point lead over Weyburn atop the SJHL standings. They are 8-1-0-1 in their last ten and with a win would have just 1 regulation loss for the Month of November. They are 18-3-0-2 since the start of October.
And they have Blake Tatchell who is now the only player in the league on pace for more than 100 points. The power play had 4 goals last time out and the second line of Kyle Hall, Roger Tagoona and Tanner Schwab were dynamite. If those two aspects of the Stars game are firing on all cylinders (the second line is of course part of the PP success of late as well) then this Stars team goes from strength to strength. They are the class of the SJHL right now until someone proves otherwise.
After tonight’s game the Stars head Southish for a 3 game road trip. Melville, Yorkton and Melfort. It will be another difficult trip and you would wonder with some teams if their focus would wander from tonight’s game to the weekend. That doesn’t happen with this team and it’s pretty impressive to watch. I know for a fact that the coaching staff puts a lot of thought into how to address the players to ensure their focus is on the game at hand.
Connor Creech was solid to spectacular against Estevan 10 days ago and was very good last time the Stars played. Will he be back between the pipes tonight? Or will Graham Hildebrand get the start? He missed the last game as he was sick but I am sure he is ready to go.
To find out you had better head down to the Civic Center tonight. Puck drop is at 7:30.