The Richardson Pioneer Weyburn Red Wings (1-0-1) will renew their acquaintances with the Estevan Bruins (1-1-0) Friday night when the Wings travel down Highway 39 to take on the Bruins in the first game of a weekend home-and-home. Weyburn is coming off a 1-0 shutout win over the Yorkton Terriers in Yorkton Saturday night, while the Bruins are aiming to bounce back after a 5-0 loss to the Melville Millionaires.
Wings head coach Cody Mapes pointed out that scoring goals will be key as the team comes into action this weekend.
"I think we know was a group, obviously, we need to score more than a goal and a half a game, but at the end of the day, when you split and you win the second game, usually Sunday and Monday is more of a positive day,” Mapes said of the atmosphere around the team as they got ready for the upcoming games. “There’s a lot of good things to build on. I mean, in saying that we need to score more, we only gave up three goals, well, two goals actually, over the weekend plus a shootout goal. So that’s a pretty big positive start of the year when things like the defensive side of the puck are pretty tuned in.”
As for the opponents this weekend, history will be on the side of the Bruins. Over the past five seasons, they have won 19 of the 28 matchups, including 10 at Affinity Place. That said, last year, the season series between the two teams was split, with Weyburn outscoring Estevan 25-17, including wins of 9-2 and 6-1.
“Right now we need to worry more about what we’re doing and making sure we’re getting better every day,” Mapes said of the upcoming games on the weekend. “They’re a good team, they’ve returned a lot of veteran players and they’ve added two real good defensemen on the back end, and they’ve got good goaltending too.”
With many of the pundits around the league saying the Bruins are likely going to finish in the top three of the league at the end of the season, Mapes added this will be a good test for the Red Wings to see where they measure up.
The storied rivalry between the two teams, of course, is always easily stoked up, and this year, Weyburn Police Chief Jamie Blunden took to social media to hype up the season series and the annual Highway 39 Cup, which involves a wager between the two chiefs of police.
“Jamie is a passionate guy, and he’s passionate about the Red Wings since he’s been here,” Mapes said. “He’s never hidden that, whether it was when he was on our board or not, so it’s great to have support like that.”
With the scoring being something Mapes would like to see improved upon, they did add a piece to the roster earlier this week. Rocco La Carra was added to the Red Wings in a trade with the Olds Grizzlies of the AJHL.
“He’s scored everywhere he went,” Mapes said of the most recent addition. “That was a move to help address our scoring a little bit. Jaxon Ruthven is also going to be back in the lineup as well. He’s another guy that’s going to be able to score.”
The puck drops on the game at Affinity Place at 7:00 p.m. Friday night, with the Great Plains Ford Red Wings Radio broadcast, with Nick Nielsen, starting with the pregame show at 6:45 p.m. The return leg of the home and home will be at Crescent Point on Saturday night. The game starts at 7:00 p.m.
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