Youngster Nicolson shines in debut for Border Bruins

Grand Forks Border Bruins goalie Nathan Nicolson takes a skate during a stoppage in play during the team’s Feb. 4 game against the Spokane Braves. He made 38 saves in a 4-2 loss.

While the Grand Forks Border Bruins lost to the Spokane Braves 4-2 on Friday night, a local kid made quite an impression between the pipes. Making his first home start ever, goalie Nathan Nicolson stopped 38 of 42 shots directed his way and was named the game’s third star.

“It was nothing unusual; a lot of it I got lucky on,” 16-year-old Nicolson said when asked about the number of shots he faced.

Being from Grand Forks, Nicolson had a lot of family and friends in the crowd and while he admitted that was weighing on his mind, he was able to put it behind him as the game progressed.

“I was really happy to play but I was nervous. I knew a lot of people were coming, a lot of my family. It was a tough game but I pulled through it. You focus on the game, your adrenaline kicks in and it leaves your head so you can focus on the game,” explained Nicolson.

The play of the young goalie wasn’t lost on the coaching staff either as Tom Frith, interim coach and director of hockey operations commented after the game.

“I thought Nathan Nicolson was outstanding. He’s a young kid coming in, there’s got to be a lot of nerves, a little apprehension.

“Spokane’s a pretty decent team and I thought the kid showed a lot of composure, a lot of poise, didn’t over think the game and just did what he does naturally,” he said.

“He gave us a chance to win the game tonight.”

Frith said that the team was short of players on Friday night and said the number of shots on net was due to that and the Border Bruins’ undisciplined play – Spokane had six power play opportunities and scored twice.

“A very large percentage of the shots tonight were on the power play, so we kind of slipped a little in the discipline department,” Frith said.

“We were trying to get away from taking penalties 200 feet away from our own goal; unfortunately it happened and it cost us.”

He said that when you subtracted the shots allowed while the team was killing penalties, the shots on goal were more even.

The team lost the services of forward Dylan Sahara for the rest of the season – Sahara suffered a separated shoulder.

“It’s going to be a month minimum before he can resume any physical activity so it’s a big blow, not only for us as a team but also for him because the Powell River Kings (Junior A, BCHL) wanted to have him as an (affiliate player) for them for their playoff drive,” the team’s director of hockey operations explained.

Frith said that Sahara had shaken off injuries all season so when he said he couldn’t go, the team knew something was wrong.

“He’s taking it very hard; he’s a really tough kid. He’s tough as nails and twice as hard. We just came back from the hospital and it is what it is.” The team followed up Friday night’s loss with a 9-2 loss in Beaver Valley and a 9-3 loss in a rematch against the Braves in Spokane. The Border Bruins’ final home game is tonight against the Castlegar Rebels at Grand Forks Arena.