The Grand Forks Border Bruins notched their first win of the season on Friday night, defeating the Columbia Valley Rockies 5-4 in Invermere.
Jeremy Mandoli started in net and earned the win while Austin Lee, Nathan Cory, Mitchell Nishimura, Tyler Wagner and Brendan Jackson scored goals.
Lee led the Border Bruins with three points (a goal and two assists) on the night while Nishimura and Cory both had two points apiece (one goal and one assist each).
Blueliner Brendan Jackson, one of the team’s veterans, scored his first KIJHL goal, which also served as the winning goal.
For the Bruins it was a bright spot in what has been a turbulent period and season – the team started the season 0-23 and recently accommodated trade requests from team captain Jacob Bergeron and newly-acquired goalie Cole Buckley.
Bergeron was sent to the Golden Rockets and Buckley was sent to the Osoyoos Coyotes; both were dealt for future considerations.
Also, Brent Batten, former head coach and GM, was fired recently.
“We got a week of practice in before this game, which we didn’t have a chance to do before last weekend and they were good, hard, high-tempo practices,” explained interim Head Coach Matt Zamec.
“I think that may have given the boys a little bit of confidence, a little bit of excitement, it was a game we knew we could win.”
Zamec had praise for players on the team, especially Cory.
“When I took over from Brent less than two weeks ago, I had a talk with Nate because he, to me, was a very under-achieving player and he was kind of on the bubble,” Zamec said, adding that he wasn’t sure if Cory was going to be cut or not.
“I could tell he had a lot of ability but he just wasn’t performing up to that ability.”
After that talk, Zamec said Cory has been one of the “hardest working, hardest-hitting players.”
“The turnaround in the last two weeks has been phenomenal,” Zamec said.
The Border Bruins have a three-game home stand this week with games against the Nelson Leafs (Thursday, Dec. 1), Golden Rockets (Friday, Dec. 2) and Princeton Posse (Sunday, Dec. 4).