The Border Bruins lost on home ice Tuesday, Sept, 28, going down swinging in a high-scoring game against the Castlegar Rebels.
Tuesday’s exhibition, the last in the 2021 preseason, saw the Bears and Rebs rack up 11 penalties for roughing — six of them in the third period, according to stats posted on the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s website.
The Rebels started off strong as forward Ethan Aebly got the puck past Grand Forks’ goalie Ethan Shebansky just under halfway through the first. Bruins’ centre Ray Warrack tied the game not ten minutes later, besting Castlegar’s goaltender Matteo Hueston, with assists from left-winger Jameson Flint and defenceman Ben MacFarlane.
Bruins fans were settling back into their seats when, 90 seconds later, Rebel forward Nathan Dann put another shot into the Bears’ net.
Grand Forks tied it up again 12 minutes into the second period, thanks to a powerplay goal by forward Jackson Smith, coming off assists by defenceman Brydon Bell and Warrack. The Rebels regained the lead four minutes later, courtesy of forward Jacob Moldenhauer and his fellow forward Jesse Courville-Lynch, who gave the assist.
There were two fist-to-cuffs in front of the Rebels’ net, at one point leaving three bad Bears in the penalty box.
Moldenhauer went on to score an empty-netter in the final minutes of play, Bruins’ coach Dave Hnatiuk having pulled Shebansky in hopes of a fourth goal. The final score in the game was 5-3 Castlegar.
Hnatiuk in a post-game interview with The Gazette said the Bears were still coming together as a team.
Noting that his players gave up 104 turnovers, he stressed that the Bruins’ puck management would have to improve before their first regular-season game against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks Saturday, Oct. 2.
“We gotta learn not to beat ourselves,” he said, adding that the Rebels had earned but one of their goals in Tuesday’s game.
“All their other goals were off our mistakes,” he continued.
Hnatiuk then said his boys had done well in delivering 49 shots on net, a 40 per cent increase over the teams’ goal of 35 per game.
The Bruins are back at The Jack Saturday, Oct. 2, for their regular-season home-opener against Beaver Valley.