Portage's own Kian Calder is an SJHL Champion.
The defenceman helped guide the Estevan Bruins to a 2-0 victory in Game 7 over the Flin Flon Bombers. After 25 minutes of scoreless hockey, Calder was the one to find the back of the net first, scoring what would turn out to be the game-winning goal.
"Our forwards, (Jamie) Valentino, (Mitch) Kohner, and (Brandon) Ambrozik, had a really good shift cycling the puck," says Calder. "It sort of got chipped out to me, and their winger came up to block the shot. I put it through his feet, on net, and it just found its way in."
The local had just one point through the first six games of the series, and he outlines what it was like to be able to step up on offence when it mattered the most.
"I was taking pride in my defensive game the whole series, trying to shut down their guys," Calder continues. "For that puck to go in, it felt unreal. That's the biggest goal I've scored in my life, for sure."
Calder says he's overwhelmed with good feelings, noting it's hard to describe the extent of the satisfaction the whole locker room has right now. He adds winning it all with this specific group made everything that was sweeter.
"The energy in the locker room was amazing. We have a tight group of guys here, and everybody wanted to do it for the guy next to them," Calder explains. "It was awesome. The guys were all so pumped."
The defenceman says he stayed away from his phone for a few hours after the game to celebrate with his teammates. Calder says when he finally checked his phone, he had over 100 text messages congratulating him, which he says was cool to see.
The Portage product talks about how gratifying it was to win the biggest game of the season in front of the home fans.
"You definitely felt the whole city of Estevan behind us," says Calder. "You need fans to play the game, and they showed up and were awesome."
After 22 years The Estevan Bruins are the SJHL Champions! All the blood, sweat and tears, all of the trial and effort brought us here. Congratulations to The Bruins. We did it! pic.twitter.com/RorsItB4vp— Estevan Bruins (@estevanbruins) May 7, 2022
Calder was traded to the Bruins from the Portage Terriers in October in exchange for forward Brenden Holba and future considerations. From that point, he picked up 33 points in 45 games. During Estevan's playoff run, the blueliner scored three goals and dished out three assists.
The 19-year-old still has one more year of Junior Hockey eligibility, however, he and the Bruins' journey is not finished. The 2022 Centennial Cup is less than two weeks away and takes place in Estevan's home rink. Calder says they will be ready when the tournament of provincial champions begins on May 20.
"We're going to take the weekend to enjoy ourselves, and then it's right back to work," Calder explains. "The job is not over yet. We still have another goal in mind with the Centennial Cup coming up. We want to win that."
The defenceman gives thanks to his teammates and coaches, noting he couldn't have asked for a better group to win his first championship with. Calder says they are excited to see what they can bring to the Centennial Cup.
To view the 2022 Centennial Cup bracket click here.