By Gerry Foster
The Grand Forks Border Bruins lost two games over the weekend, making it eight losses in the past 10 contests. The team is in a nosedive of sorts and there is no end in sight.
It’s difficult to place an optimistic spin on things. Oscar Wilde said, “The basis of optimism is sheer terror.” Depending on how one interprets this, there is some truth to it, and perhaps can be a motivating factor, as this team can use all the inspirational aids at their disposal.
During this collapse several players have struggled with injuries and others have been ill; nevertheless, what we are seeing on the ice extends beyond those factors. Last Sunday afternoon in Spokane, one could say that the team hit rock bottom, losing to the Braves 3-0. Sometimes you run into a hot goalie but in this game the star was actually the losing goalie, Quinn Yeager, playing in his first game for Grand Forks.
If there is one positive area for this current Bruins’ squad it’s goaltending. The team has been carrying three net minders all season which is somewhat unusual this far into the year. Last week Evan Loura was dropped from the roster, however, surprisingly to some, another goalie quickly came on board. Yeager is from Calgary and his debut in the Lilac City is encouraging.
He faced 54 shots and arrives in Grand Forks with positive credentials. He began the season with the high-flying Nelson Leafs ,who have the number one goalie in the League in Josh Williams. For whatever reason Yeager was released and the Bruins claimed him. During Saturday’s game, a 2-1 loss to Nelson, a Nelson player shared this with me: “He is a great goalie, I don’t know why we let him go!”
It was the Bruins first loss of the year to Spokane in five games. They play each other three more times and those games will be crucial in determining the last playoff spot in the Murdoch Division.
Continuing with a goaltending theme, Friday’s 2-1 loss at home to first place Nelson, featured, in my opinion, one of the finest displays of goaltending that I can remember, by a player in a Border Bruins uniform. Ross King almost stole the game for his team with a scintillating performance, stopping 56 of 58 shots.
I spoke with King after the game and he said, “Yeah, a barrage of shots!” He added, “It was tiring.” Personally I was fatigued just watching him as he slid from one side of the crease to the other. He singlehandedly kept his team in the game.
The home team actually carried the play for the first five minutes of this game. But once the Leafs got untracked they dominated play until the third period when the Bears attempted a comeback.
The Leafs made it 1-0 with only 49 seconds left in the opening frame on a goal by Justin Podgorenko. The score remained that way until late in the second when Jaiden LaPorte gave his team a two goal cushion.
The Bruins came ever so close at the seven minute mark of the last period when Trey Mason rifled a shot off the goal post. His teammates played with a sense of urgency and Dalton Luce finally beat Josh Williams to make it 2-1; Williams owns a sparkling goals against average of 1.50. The Bears, to their credit, dug deep, showed some energy, but were unable to tie the game.
For the first time this year, Border Bruins scoring duo of Jordan Robertson and Trey Mason, are no longer at the top of the league scoring race. Robertson has slipped to second spot and Mason is tied for fourth.
The Bruins are at home this Friday at 7 p.m., hosting the Creston Valley Thunder Cats, second place team in the Eddie Mountain Division.
During my interview with Ross King, he said, “We need to take some big steps forward and bounce back.” Then he added the sagest comment of all, “We can’t play mediocre hockey!”