The Estevan Bruins were faced with an opportunity to end their losing skid against the La Ronge Ice Wolves on Wednesday, October 10. Instead, in front of a crowd that quickly grew restless and frustrated on first responder night, they extended it, falling 2-1.
Esetvan had their chances as some timely checks and fortunate bounces brought odd-man rushes but the Bruins couldn't convert. Bryce Platt scored the only Bruins goal, and Grant Boldt made 21 saves on 23 shots but it wasn't enough as Chad Duran stopped 32 of 33 shots he faced for La Ronge.
"I thought the third period was our worst," said Bruins head coach and GM Chris Lewgood. "We fought the puck and made poor decisions when we did have chances. We didn't shoot the puck tonight. We had so many shooting opportunities where we decided to make one more pass or beat one more guy."
The Bruins and Ice Wolves traded mostly harmless chances through a period and a half before Jordan Mish broke the deadlock. On a delayed penalty, Zach Bannister fooled Boldt on a fake wraparound and fed Mish with the wide open net to open the scoring.
The Bruins did their best to chip away with two power plays. Platt hit a crossbar and the Bruins had a couple of good looks at the net while Duran was without his goal stick, but it wasn't until just inside the eight minute mark of the third when Bryce Platt sniped his first as a Bruin on a 2-on-1.
"I passed it to Rip (Turner Ripplinger) on the right side and I cut to the middle as hard as I could and he found me through the triangle," said Platt of his goal. "De Roose took the guy to the net pretty good and I was all alone so I just fired it as hard as I could."
"We've had some good battles," Platt said of his new linemate Tristyn DeRoose, who was making his Bruins debut. "In midget and even junior, he was a tough guy, hard to play against. It's nice to have him on the line."
The Bruins seemed to be gaining momentum, but it all slipped from their fingers with just under three minutes left in the third. Joshua Poon went to the forecheck for the Ice Wolves after his own dump in, knocked down Aigne McGeady-Bruce and fed it out front to a waiting Max Kleiner, who snuck the winner under Boldt's glove.
Estevan did their best to press from there, but had such trouble escaping their own zone that they barely had time to take Boldt out for the extra attacker.
"We were too cute all night," said Lewgood. "It got worse in the third. Our best chances all night came from a shot and a rebound attempt, and we got away from that and got caught making too many passes to try to beat a man."
"We had a couple missed assignments and got too cute," siad Platt, echoing his coach's sentiment. "We got chances, but at the end of the day it's not enough, and it wasn't enough from me. I'll put this on me and the older guys and we'll get better on the weekend."
The Bruins fall to 4-6 on the year ahead of the rematch with La Ronge on Saturday at Affinity Place. Puck drop is 7:30.
Eddie Gallagher returned to the lineup for the first time since opening night. He was held pointless in the loss despite being singled out by his coaching staff as one of their hardest workers.
The Bruins had not lost four straight games since December 6 of 2015 when they wrapped up a northern road swing with a 7-1 loss in Nipawin. They had not lost to La Ronge since a shootout loss on January 8 of 2016.
The Bruins were without Michael McChesney (suspension) and TJ Irey (lower body injury). McChesney still has three games left to serve.