The Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings found themselves knotted up 1-1 with the Estevan Bruins heading into the third period of the final regular season game Monday night. The Bruins, though, would find a way to score three goals in the third period to lift themselves to a 4-2 victory and capture the Highway 39 Cup by a single point.
With the loss, the Red Wings finished the regular season with a record of 26-27-2-1, six points back of the Bruins for the Viterra Division title, and in 8th place in the SJHL overall standings. The placement secures a playoff spot for the Red Wings, and they will take on the top-seeded Battlefords North Stars in the first round of the SJHL playoffs Friday night.
In the game Monday, the Bruins were first to get on the board when Keagon Little beat Dazza Mitchell for his 7th goal of the season just 1:24 into the game. Weyburn would bounce back quickly, though, with Ryley Morgan putting his 25th of the year past Cam Hrdlicka just over three minutes later. The goal was assisted by Jackson Hassman and Ty Mason.
In the second period, it would be the goaltenders that shone, particularly Mitchell, as neither team was able to break the deadlock. This included nearly 90 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time for the Bruins, which saw the Wings kill off the man advantage.
The Bruins would find a way to solve Mitchell in the third period, though, as Salvatore Collora would score on the power play at the 6:07 mark to give Estevan the lead. Then, Brady Wilson would score another power play goal with 8:14 left to play to make it 3-1 for the Bruins.
Weyburn would answer back with a power play goal of their own. Ty Mason put the puck past Hrdlicka with 4:39 left to go, and the Red Wings found themselves in a position to try to rally back. The Mason goal was assisted by Jordan Edwards and Morgan.
With 1:20 left to play, the Red Wings pulled Mitchell in favour of an extra attacker and had a number of quality opportunities but Hrdlicka was able to keep the puck out of the net. Then, a missed pass would lead to a foot race into the Weyburn zone, and Owen Barrow scored with 16 seconds left to put the game out of reach, handing the Bruins a 4-2 victory.
The win for the Bruins gave them the Highway 39 Cup by virtue of one of their losses during the season against Weyburn coming in overtime. While Weyburn won more games, the point breakdown gave Estevan one more point, and they were able to capture the cup for the second year in a row.
Now, the Red Wings will have a few days to prepare for the Battlefords North Stars for the opening round of the SJHL playoffs. Meanwhile, the Estevan Bruins will be taking on the Flin Flon Bombers in a rematch of the 2022 SJHL Championship series.
You will be able to catch all the playoff action on Red Wing Radio, BIG 106, starting with the game Friday night.