Local defenceman Kian Calder is ecstatic to be playing playoff hockey once again.
The 19-year-old has spent this season in the SJHL with the Estevan Bruins, who ended the season with the best record in the league. Despite being the top team, the Bruins still lost their playoff opener 4-3 in overtime. Calder feels like that was a reality check for them.
"It was the first playoff game, for a lot of us, in two years. So, we had to knock the rust off a bit," Calder continues. "Notre Dame is a good team, I have to give them credit. They played a really good game, and their goalie stood on his head. I think we just needed to adjust a little more, and now we've done that. Hopefully, we can keep it up."
Since their initial loss, the Bruins have taken a 3-1 lead in the series, winning the following contests 4-1, 6-1, and 3-2. Calder has two goals through the four playoff games and ended the regular season having put up 33 points in 45 games. He says it has been an unbelievable season in general.
"The guys in the room are great, we have a good coaching staff, and the city is great," says Calder. "It's awesome to play in a place where the whole city gathers around the team and supports us. Since the mandates have lifted, we've had a lot of fans here, which has been great. It's easy to play in a place like this.
The town of Estevan is this year's host of the Centennial Cup tournament, which sees all the best Junior A hockey clubs from across the country face off with one another. The Bruins have guaranteed a spot in the tournament as the host team, but Calder says they still want to earn their spot by winning the league championship.
"Obviously, that's in the back of our mind, but we've set goals for the year and winning the SJHL Championship is our next goal. That's what we're focused on," Calder explains.
Calder says the keys to postseason success for them will be to continue playing gritty hockey and doing things like finishing checks, blocking shots, and making the little plays that can matter most.
The Bruins currently hold a 3-1 series lead in their first-round matchup with the Notre Dame Hounds. Game five takes place tomorrow in Estevan.