Pack the arena and cheer on the Bruins

On the Ball column by Craig Lindsay, Nov. 18 Grand Forks Gazette.

While it may be too early to start fitting the boys for championship rings, there’s no doubt the Border Bruins are on fire. The Bruins are currently riding a five game winning streak, which includes impressive road wins over division-leading Beaver Valley (twice!!) and Nelson.

The Bruins are one game from the coveted (for them) .500 mark, which means winning at least half your games. They are also only one game away from third-place Nelson in the Neil Murdoch division standings. If they keep this up not only would they make the play-offs for the first time in at least 16 years but they could finish third or second and would get a much easier first round play-off round opponent.

There are two big questions that come to mind: why are they doing so well? and, can they keep it up?

Why are they doing so well can be attributed to several things none of which can be completely quantified. The coaching and management have been strong so far. Emery Olauson (head coach/general manager) and Britt Ouellette (assistant coach/director of marketing) both bring youthful energy yet have some experience and discipline so they are taken seriously. To win so many close games, they’re making the right moves behind the bench. The pair have brought in some very good talent and basically turned the roster over from last year.

Of course, a coach has never scored a goal on the ice. So yes the players have to step up and contribute on the ice. With a five-game winning streak it’s not just one or two guys but everyone contributing. However, the top line of Dylan Haney, Chad Grambo and Jordan Robertson have really stepped up. All three are cast-offs from other junior teams but have embraced the underdog role with the Bruins and flourished. A lot of the success can also be contributed to starting goaltender Anthony Galliart, who has been between the pipes for seven of the Bruins’ ten wins this season. Galliart has been a rock in goal. When an opposing team makes a run he has held strong and given GF a chance to win.

Whether the Bruins can keep up the winning streak is hard to say as well. Sports can be a roller coaster ride at the best of times. We’re looking at 18-, 17- and even 16-year-old kids here. Some will get injured, some will go into funks, some will get homesick, some may get pulled up to junior A. That’s the nature of the beast.

However, there are signs that the Bruins’ success could be long-term. The team isn’t relying on one or two “superstars” to carry them. It seems a different player and/or different line has stepped up to lead each game. Even though Galliart has stepped forward as the go-to goalie, Nikki Maciurzynski is not far behind although he is fighting the injury bug.

AP (affiliate player/call-up player) Tyler Loura is only 16 but has played very well in limited action so far.

The Bears are in a tough division and there are sure to be rough patches. Beaver Valley is going to come out stronger the next time the teams play. Castlegar is a perennial contender and always has good coaching. The Nelson Leafs are also solid and are used to winning.

One thing residents can be sure of is that the team is putting a quality product on the ice. These guys are working hard and deserve your support. Let’s make sure we pack the arena and cheer our boys on to more wins!!