Members of the Estevan Bruins have long debated internally how fast their fastest skaters can really fly and how hard their hardest shooters can really rip a puck. They got an answer to both those and other questions on Saturday, March 9 at their skills competition in front of a delighted crowd of young fans.
Jake Heerspink, who frequently sets up as the one-time shot option on the Bruins power play, clocked in with the hardest shot at 91 miles an hour. TJ Irey, his teammate for the event, finished just behind him at 90 even.
When the time came for the fastest skater event, Jayden Davis put up an impressive run, coming it at under 14 seconds. To the surprise of Bruins director of operations Danny Ewen, it was the younger Davis, Cody, who put up the best time of all, beating his brother by two tenths of a second.
"Any time Jayden Davis doesn't win fastest skater that's a surprise," he said. "But if it's his blood winning it that makes a lot of sense. As far as other surprises go, none really because all these guys have a lot of skill."
The accuracy shooting went to Johnny Witzke, who wrapped up his four targets in just over 22 seconds. Heerspink, at just a hair over 23, finished right behind him. Turner Ripplinger was also around 23, but joked the target didn't break for him when it should've.
"I think I could've beat him," Ripplinger said of Witzke's time, "but the hockey gods just weren't on my side today." Ripplinger also participated in the shootout and relay competition.
The shootout saw the players pull out all the stops, including a seamless lacrosse move by Isaiah Thomas and a fake slapshot by Michael McChesney that earned him a goal. When the shootout concluded, the players got into lighter gear to meet their fans for a community skate.
"Excellent day here," Ewen said. "We just wanted to take advantage of a weekend off before playoffs. The guys put on a great skills competition and performed well and had fun. Now, as you can see, the community skate going on, lots of kids out and all the guys having a lot of fun. This is exactly what we wanted, a little engagement with our fans before an important playoff run."
The Bruins playoff run begins on Friday, March 15, against the Humboldt Broncos at Affinity Place. The game will begin at 7:30.