By Gerry Foster
The Grand Forks Border Bruins faced a greater challenge this past weekend and the results were not what they or their fans would have desired.
Facing the Nelson Leafs at home on Friday, the Bears lost a heartbreaker in double overtime. The final score was 3-2; however the score was flattering to the home team. They were outshot 55-25 and the story of the game was the sensational play of Bruins’ goalie Knute Loe who was at the Lethbridge Hurricanes camp in September.
And it was a storm of hockey pucks that he faced in his second start for the Bruins. The Bruins actually held the lead twice in this game, opening the scoring on Rilee Poffenroth’s first of two goals early in the opening frame. That goal stood up until the 13 minute mark of the second period when Nelson’s Ryan Cooper tied the game.
The Bruins replied only 49 seconds later when Poffenroth gave his team a 2-1 lead. His linemates, Jake LaPlante and August Demaere, picked up assists on both goals. Meanwhile, Loe was the epitome of Horatius at the Bridge in guarding the Grand Forks net.
The visitors tied the game with a goal from Jack Karran at 7:39 of the third period. The mandatory media one-minute timeout occurred at the 10 minute mark of the third. It was a good thing because the beleaguered Loe was the one who really needed a break.
For the third time at home this year a game went into overtime. Nelson’s Karran was called for tripping with only 36 seconds left in regulation time, meaning Grand Forks would have an advantage going into the first extra period. They couldn’t score and Nelson was again penalized; however the Bruins’ power play remained silent. These were lost opportunities for sure.
With a minute and a half gone in the second overtime, Sawyer Hunt scored an unassisted goal as he circled the net and slid the puck into the far corner for the 3-2 win.
The Border Bruins were playing without the services of Trey Mason. He is out of the lineup with a concussion, suffered last Sunday in Spokane when he collided with a teammate. With Reese Tambellini still on the injury list, the Grand Forks offence is suddenly lacking.
The Bruins travelled to Fruitvale the following night but with the aforementioned players out of action, and the rest of the team licking their wounds from the night before, they came out flat. Beaver Valley’s leading scorer, Dylan Heppler, scored what proved to be the winning goal, less than 2 minutes into the first period.
The Bruins lacked the intensity and energy that we have seen from this team in earlier games. Yet they were down only 2-0 heading into the third period. However Bradley Ross made it 3-0 just 2 minutes into that final period. Then the improbable happened: Ross scored again only four seconds later.
Checking the KIJHL records, this is the fastest two goals ever scored in this league.
That took the wind right out of the sails of the Bruins, and they registered only one shot on goal in that final period, quietly surrendering in a 4-0 loss.
Jordan Robertson definitely missed his line mate Mason in the weekend games. They had displayed great chemistry during the first seven games of the season.
Defenceman Yoan Rodrigue is back on the roster of the Bruins and played his first game of the season against Beaver Valley. I think this is a positive move as he had eight goals and seven assists in 41 games for Grand Forks last season.
The Bruins have a big Thanksgiving weekend coming up at home with games scheduled for Friday (Golden Rockets), Saturday (Kimberley Dynamiters), both at 7 p.m., and a Sunday afternoon matinee at 2 p.m. versus the Spokane Braves.