Batten and Border Bruins look to tighten defensive zone play

After 13-0 and 6-2 losses to Beaver Valley last week, Grand Forks Border Bruin Head Coach and GM said the team needs to work on its play in its own end of the rink.

Grand Forks Border Bruins' goalie Jeremy Mandoli in the season opener vs. Beaver Valley.

The Grand Forks Border Bruins dropped the first two games of 2011/12 and Head Coach and GM Brent Batten said it was due to play in the defensive end.

The Border Bruins lost 13-0 and 6-2 in a home game and home series with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks on Friday and Saturday nights.

The team gave up 54 shots on net on Friday but played better in its own end the following night, only allowing 21 shots. Nevertheless, Batten said they would be doing a lot of defensive zone work this week.

“Our defensive zone is our biggest challenge right now,” the head coach explained.

“We have a pretty young team and with that, you get a pretty steep learning curve sometimes and I think the guys really have to adjust to the pace of the game and that was very evident on Friday night.”

Goalie Ryan Bryant was pulled after the 37:32 mark in the first game at Grand Forks Arena – replaced by backup Jeremy Mandoli – but played the full 60 minutes the next night in Beaver Valley.

Batten said it wasn’t fair to lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of the netminders.

“At the end of the day, if you actually look at the games, the goaltenders both made a lot of first and second stops and unfortunately, they were getting beat on the third and fourth shots sometimes,” explained Batten.

“Realistically, our goaltenders actually played well, it’s just the stats are a little deceiving in that department.”

The head coach said that no firm decisions have been made as of Monday regarding this Friday’s (Sept. 23) home game against the Castlegar Rebels but he did say that the team could dress third goalie and local Nathan Nicolson.

“We’ll take the week and address the guys in practice and let them know where they’re at. Hopefully we’ll get Nate into a game.” said Batten.

The Border Bruins have yet to score with the man advantage, going a combined 0 for 9 on the power play in the Beaver Valley games, while allowing two power play goals on nine chances and Batten said that it is a matter of experience.

“Special teams comes with playing in game situations,” he said.

“As the guys get comfortable with each other, and again, we did see that Saturday night, things got a lot better there. Our penalty kill was working much better, our power play was getting set up and we didn’t generate as much offense from it as we would’ve liked but we were spending a lot of time in their zone when we were on the power play.”

Puck drops in Friday’s Castlegar Rebels game at 7:30 p.m. at Grand Forks Arena.

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