The Viterra Division is once again in for a photo finish in 2018-19, and the Estevan Bruins narrowed the gap between themselves and the Yorkton Terriers on Tuesday, January 8 with a 4-2 win on home ice.
Turner Ripplinger scored twice, including one into an empty net, and Jack Michel and Jayden Davis added goals of their own as the Bruins won their first home game of 2019 against a close division rival. Grant Boldt made 24 saves in the victory.
“We held the fort a little bit,” said Bruins head coach and GM Chris Lewgood after the game. “I think it’s a blessing in disguise that it was such a close game because we exorcised some demons here, being able to hold them off and not fold under that pressure.”
The Bruins got the game’s first goal as they had the last two times the teams met. This time it was the secondary scoring who chipped in as Michel took a pass from Eddie Gallagher and bounced in a point shot for his third goal of the season.
It wasn’t long before the Terriers tied it, breaking in on a 2-on-1 and neatly executing a tip pass from Aiden Bulych to Branden Klatt. Despite a Terrier power play, the teams entered the second tied at one.
Scrambly play dominated the middle frame as both teams earned a goal off a bad turnover. Chantz Petruic picked off an errant clearing attempt and sniped home his 21stof the campaign to give Yorkton what would be their only lead. At the midway mark of the period, however, Davis scored on nearly the exact same play at the other end, walking into the slot and rifling a shot high-glove on Terrier netminder Riley Lamb.
The Bruins reclaimed the lead off good cycle work in the third. After Yorkton captain Brendan Mark fanned on a pass attempt, Will Koop worked around the offensive zone and fed the puck out front. Tristyn DeRoose had a whack at it, but it was Ripplinger who put in what would prove to be the game winner.
“We talked in between periods about just getting pucks on net,” Ripplinger said. “DeRoose fired one on net and I was in the right place at the right time, back door to just tap one in.”
The Terriers pressed late and had a power play with a minute and a half to go. At first it seemed as if the Terriers would force overtime for the third straight game, but instead Ripplinger outhustled his check after blocking a point shot and iced the game with his empty netter.
“We got a kick out of the fact that he turned the puck over so badly six-on-four,” Lewgood cracked after the game, “and then I’ve never seen him skate so fast to get to the top of the zone and get a really nice blocked shot. Then he outskated that guy for the empty netter. He’s a courageous player and a guy that cares a lot about the team so you expect nothing less.”
The Bruins move to within four points of the Terriers for the Division lead and sit 3-2-2 against them on the year. Estevan next plays on Friday night in Notre Dame, which will air on Rock 106.
With his 18 and 19 goals in this game, Turner Ripplinger set a new career high at the junior level. He now leads the Bruins in that department.
Jack Michel’s goal was his first goal and point since he scored in Kindersley on September 27. Despite the lengthy drought, he still sits third on the Bruins defense in goals scored.
The previous two games between these teams had gone to overtime after the Bruins surrendered a lead late in the third period. The Bruins last win over Yorkton was November 6 at Affinity Place by a 4-1 score.
Will Koop played his first game since suffering an injury in a win over Kindersley and his first game against the Yorkton Terriers. He finished with an assist and took numerous faceoffs throughout the game.