The regular season opened in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League this weekend. The Grand Forks Border Bruins had both their first road game and home opener on the schedule.
On Friday, the team travelled to Summerland for the lone match-up with the Steam this year. The game was evenly matched through most of the first period, until the Bruins went short-handed with barely two minutes remaining – the Bruins penalty kill unit held the Steam back for 1:55, but Kyle Cyr scored with five seconds remaining in the period to give the home team the lead into the first intermission.
In the second period, the Steam collected two more goals in the first half of the period, with another power play goal, this time from Keenan Conn, and a minute-and-a-half later Cyr got his second of the night to give Summerland a 3-0 lead. The Bruins took advantage of a couple of power plays of their own, with rookie Keanan Pearman scoring his first career KIJHL goal and veteran Chad Bates getting his first of the season to bring the game within one.
There was no scoring in the third period, and the Steam took the win 3-2.
On Saturday, the Bruins home opener started with a tailgate party in the parking lot at the Jack Goddard Memorial Arena, and a good crowd started early enjoying great weather, food trucks, music, and outdoor hockey for the kids. Over 450 fans were in the stands to cheer the Bruins on.
The Revelstoke Grizzlies arrived off a 4-2 loss in Nelson Friday, ready for the lone match between the two teams this season.
The first two periods showcased great work by the goaltenders, with Ethan Shebansky in net for the Bruins and Jozef Kuchaslo in for the Grizzlies. Each stopped 17 shots over two periods, leaving the game scoreless after 40 minutes.
Revelstoke’s Nicholas Buckley, who had a power play goal the night before in Nelson, did the same again in Grand Forks, solving Shebansky with just under four minutes left in regulation time. Despite going 6-on-4 briefly on a short power play and with the goaltender pulled, the Bruins couldn’t claw back the goal, and the Grizzlies left with the win, having split their weekend and with the Bruins, Osoyoos Coyotes, and 100 Mile House Wranglers the only teams to not pick up a win on the opening weekend.
This weekend, the Bruins play two at home, hosting the Spokane Braves on Friday night for the first time in 1,372 days – the last game between these “Battle of the Border” rivals was in Spokane on Jan. 25, 2020. The Columbia Valley Rockies will be in town on Saturday night.