The CanElson Drilling Estevan Bruins kept pace in their hunt for a top-three spot in the Sherwood Conference on Friday, hammering the Kindersley Klippers 8-1 at Spectra Place.
Tanner Froese scored twice and Zach MacLellan had three assists in his first game with the Bruins, who built a 6-0 lead after 20 minutes.
“That’s a function of us putting pucks on net and being determined to go and get rebounds,” Bruins head coach Keith Cassidy said of the team’s dominant first period.
“I don’t know if I was surprised with that. I was happy with our determination to get that done.”
Derek Whitehill, Matt Brykaliuk, Calder Neufeld, Matt Dochylo, Connor Milligan and Tyler Paslawski scored the Bruins’ other goals.
Trent Hermary netted Kindersley’s lone marker midway through the second period. After a spirited start by the Klippers, Whitehill scored from between the faceoff circles at 2:43 and the Bruins quickly took control of the game.
Froese beat former Bruins goalie Brandon Stone on a wraparound at 8:08, and MacLellan set up Brykaliuk for a laser shot from the point at 13:43 on a power play.
Two minutes after that, Neufeld was left alone in the slot and buried a centring pass to make it 4-0, chasing Stone from the crease in favour of Justin McDonald.
Two minutes after the Neufeld goal, Matt Dochylo took a hit in the corner and then went to the net to bang in a gift goal.
Milligan rounded out the first period rout 43 seconds later on a shot from the right point. Froese potted his second on a 3-on-1 four minutes into the second, firing a shot off the crossbar and in.
At 11:36, Hermary scored a power play marker to get Kindersley — who had six power plays in the period — on the board.
“The tone and the pace and the style of the game certainly was managed in a different way after the first period,” said Cassidy. “We saw a lot of special teams play that certainly throws (away) any momentum or any entertainment value that you could possibly have. We tried to stay focused and battle through that.”
Paslawski would make it 8-1 late in the period, knocking in a rebound on a man-advantage.
There was no scoring in the third period.
MacLellan said he meshed well with his new teammates, particularly in the offensive zone.
“The power play was clicking good. It’s good to contribute up front and be that fourth forward out there.”
He said being traded three times before the SJHL trade deadline two weeks ago was tough, but there was never any doubt that he would report to the Bruins.
“There were a couple of trades that day and it was good to get home and take a little break,” he said. “I didn’t want to go to Melfort. But then once I got traded here, it was for sure (that I would come).
“Keith offered me a lot — playing time, things like that. He told me it was a good group of guys. It seems good so far.”
Cassidy was impressed with his new defenceman.
“I thought he fit in rather well. He’s very good positionally, very patient with the puck, smart player, makes a good first pass.”
Cassidy said it was important to jump on the Klippers early and ensure that the two points were in hand.
“We talked about that all week long, preparing to come out there and get on them right away. As it seems to happen with teams that are lower than us in the standings, we seem to play down to their level at times and get lulled to sleep and find out at the end that we don’t have the juice to turn it on and win,” he said.
Bruins goalie Tyler Ross stopped 35 of 36 shots, including 22 in the third period after not being tested much in the first 40 minutes.
“That was incredible form for him to stay that focused. Quite honestly, he could have been daydreaming and it could have gone south on us real quick,” Cassidy said. “But he stood tall and made some saves that he probably shouldn’t have made. There were some highlight reel stops out there.”
Estevan fired 45 shots on Stone and McDonald and held a 39-14 edge after two periods.
On the injury front, goalie Steven Glass will continue to practice this week and it’s not known whether he will play this weekend. The Bruins host Nipawin on Friday and Battlefords on Sunday.
“He does have a knee issue that we’re having further investigated, but he practiced with us (on Thursday and Friday) and the stiffness in the knee, I think he’s overcoming that,” said Cassidy.
Winger Eric Baldwin sprained his ankle Jan. 15 against Flin Flon and is likely at least three weeks away from returning. Cassidy estimated that he will begin skating within two weeks and could return by mid-February.