With eighteen minor penalties between the two teams, most of the game between the Estevan Bruins and Melville Millionaires on Saturday, February 9, was spent on special teams. As they have for much of the second half of the year, the Bruins were the drivers of the special teams play, and won 6-2.
TJ Irey and Will Koop scored a pair each, one at even strength and one on the power play, and Kadin Kilpatrick stopped 20 of 22 shots for his fourth win in his last five starts. Kade McMillen and Jayden Davis also scored, while Daniel Liberty and Ryan Butler provided the Millionaires goals.
Irey opened the scoring on the first of what would be four first period power plays for the Bruins. In nearly an action replay of his season-opening goal in Melville, Irey whacked home the rebound of a Jake Heerspink point shot just seven seconds into the power play.
Ten minutes later, on almost the same play, Koop was on the doorstep to bury the rebound of a shot by Devan Harrison to make it 2-0. The Bruins went 2-for-4 on the power play in the first.
The Millionaires had their cracks at the power play in the second. As a 5-on-3 expired, Liberty blasted a one-timer over Kilpatrick’s shoulder to get Melville within one.
That was as close as the Bruins let them come, however. On another Millionaire power play, Davis rocketed out of the zone after a loose puck, beating every Melville skater and going in alone. Though he was stopped on his first attempt, Davis followed his rebound and knocked it past Berk Berkeliev to make it 3-1.
Early in the third, the Bruins finally scored the first even-strength goal of the weekend. Bryce Platt won a battle below the goal line and fed it out front to Irey who one-timed it past Berkeliev to give the Bruins a 4-1 lead. Then, not even a minute later, Koop scored the backbreaker, banking his pass in off a back-checking Mils defenseman to make it 5-1.
Butler tipped home a point shot by Liberty 8:31 into the third to get Melville back within three, but the Bruins allowed them no more serious chances, and at 16:05 of the period Davis picked up another of his own rebounds and left it for McMillen, who scored his fourth of the season.
With the win, and the loss by Yorkton in Kindersley, the Bruins hold a six-point lead on the Terriers for the top spot in the Viterra Division with a record of 27-21-2-1. Their next game is against the Notre Dame Hounds on Tuesday, February 12, in Wilcox.
Aigne McGeady Bruce drew three of the four first period penalties against the Millionaires. He also added an assist, giving him 16 on the year for a new career high.
The Bruins take the season series against Melville 5-1 for the second year in a row. They played the Millionaires on two back-to-back sets and swept both.
Johnny Witzke’s two assists on the night give him a new career high of 37 points on the year in 51 games. He leads all SJHL defensemen with 12 goals.
Kadin Kilpatrick has started five straight games for the Bruins and has gone 4-1 with two shutouts. His two shutouts lead all rookie goalies.