The Border Bruins faced all three Murdoch division rivals in the past week, taking a very impressive win against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks Saturday, Dec. 4.
The Bears played an away game at Castlegar last week, facing the Rebels Tuesday, Nov. 30 — their third match-up this season, and the first at the Castlegar and District Community Complex. The game got off to a tough start when the Bruins took a four-minute double-minor penalty early in the first period. The Rebels took charge, scoring twice for an early lead (Nathan Dann, Jesse Courville-Lynch). Nathan Dann scored again when the Rebels had an extra attacker on a delayed penalty to the Bruins, with Ilya Zhilinsky adding a fourth toward the end of the period.
Ollie Morberg registered a powerplay goal for the Bruins in the second, but Liam Dumelie added a Castlegar marker during a Rebels powerplay. The Bruins didn’t fold, as Hunter Wood and Matteus Reis each scored during a 25-second span in the middle of the third period. The Bears couldn’t capitalize on a couple of Rebels penalties before the final buzzer, and the Rebels logged their third win against the Bruins this year.
On Friday night, Dec. 3, the Nelson Leafs were back for their third appearance at the Jack this season, the Bruins have been to Nelson only once.
The Leafs took an early lead in the first with goals by Rhett Hamilton and Lane Goodwin, but in the second half of the period Ollie Morberg got a pair leaving the game tied 2-2 at the first intermission. Following the second-period TV timeout, the Leafs passed to Devin McNair in the high slot and he found a narrow lane, putting the puck over goalie Justin Dueck’s right shoulder. Rhett Hamilton was in a similar position in the slot late in the third period when he shot a one-timer from a pass back from the goal line and scored his second of the night. The Bruins were out-shot 42-19 by the Leafs, who took a 4-2 victory.
There was a smaller crowd at the Jack on Saturday night, but the fans who chose to stay home missed a great game. The division-leading Nitehawks were back for the first time since exhibition season when the Bruins had a win and a tie; the Hawks have won three regular-season matches on home ice.
Grand Forks scored three times in the first period. Jackson Smith stole the puck at centre. His shot rebounded off goalie Kevin Engman to Cody Quinney on the open side, giving Quinney his first KIJHL goal. About a minute later, Ray Warrack passed the puck from the near corner to Ollie Morberg who beat Engman glove-side. Jonah Smith passed the puck through the Nitehawks crease, finding Jackson Smith who was able to catch Engman moving across. In the second, Ollie Morberg played the puck ahead after a face-off scramble, finding Matteus Reis at centre. Reis was able to deke around Brennan Wilson, and his backhand shot caught the Hawks’ netminder, giving the Bruins a healthy 4-0 lead through two.
Beaver Valley’s Hunter Burgeson prevented the shut-out with a third-period goal, but the Bruins added a short-handed goal by Matteus Reis. Jonah Smith’s first KIJHL goal then rounded out the period, giving the Bruins their first win of the season with a commanding 6-1 victory over the Nitehawks.
Securing a regulation win was an emotional moment for a team that’s had some challenges getting things going this season.
“It’s nice to see the boys rewarded for playing a full 60-minutes,” Head Coach Dave Hnatiuk said after the game.
The Bruins face the Leafs on Friday night, Dec. 10, at Nelson, and then the Rebels come to Grand Forks on Saturday night. Fans who can’t make it to the rinks can watch KIJHL games online with a subscription at www.hockeytv.com. Meanwhile, be sure to follow the Bruins broadcast team on Twitter @BruinsBroadcast.