The 2022-2023 Grand Forks Border Bruins. (Photo by Peter Kalasz (

The 2022-2023 Grand Forks Border Bruins. (Photo by Peter Kalasz (

Border Bruins’ season ends as Thunder Cats win playoff series 4-1

Kevin McKinnon

Grand Forks Border Bruins

The KIJHL 2022-2023 playoffs have officially ended for the Grand Forks Border Bruins.

The Creston Valley Thunder Cats defeated the Bruins in the first game of the series in a close game. The Cats scored first, early in the game, with a goal by Blake Anderson, who added a power play goal part way through the second period as well. Jonah Smith put the Bruins on the board late in the second, but Luke Chakrabarti added another for Creston a minute into the third, and a power play goal by Matteus Reis near the middle of the frame wasn’t enough to force overtime.

The Border Bruins controlled the second game of the series, with a pair of power play goals from Reis in the first period. A goal off a quick shot from the left point by Tyson Kistner right off a faceoff win by Ray Warrack put the Bruins up 3-0 before the Thunder Cats added a pair from Reece Nelson and Blake Anderson. The Bruins led 3-2 at the second intermission. The Bruins added four more in the third period from Russell Kosec, Matteus Reis for the hat-trick, Spencer Horning, and Jonah Smith, while Blake Anderson got his second of the night for Creston. The final score, 7-3 Bruins, and the series was tied.

There were two mid-week games in Creston. On Tuesday night, the Cats had a second period goal from Reese Nelson which was promptly replied to by Spencer Horning for his second of the playoffs. A power play goal by Morrison in the third period secured the win for the Cats for a series lead of 2-1.

The next night, the Bruins struck first on the power play as Spencer Horning added another to his playoff point total. Cooper Walbaum got his first of the playoffs for Creston in the second period to tie the game, while Blake Anderson and Stavros Koutsantonis added to the Cat’s goal count in the third period. Just like game 1, there was a late power play goal by Matteus Reis to bring the Bruins within 1, but the Thunder Cats held the Bruins at bay to send the series back to Grand Forks with a 3-1 lead.

Fighting to avoid elimination, the Bruins were back at home last Friday night for game 5. The Thunder Cats scored first with a Nikolai Morrison goal just 1:10 into the game, but Jonah Smith got his third of the playoffs near the 10-minute mark to tie the game. Luke Chakrabarti, who was the league’s top point scorer in the regular season, got his second of the playoffs late in the period to put Creston ahead 2-1.

In the second period, Nikolai Morrison got his second of the night, followed by a pair by Luke Chakrabarti before the middle of the frame. The Bruins came back with two of their own in the final four minutes of the period as Reid Schechtel and Chad Bates each scored their first of the playoffs, Bates on the power play. The Bruins trailed 5-3 after 40 minutes.

In the third period, Stavros Koutsantonis got a power play goal for Creston, the only Creston goal in the game not scored by the top line, and while Spencer Horning and Ben Edwards added goals for Grand Forks, Creston added one from Blake Anderson along with an empty-netter as Luke Chakrabarti’s fourth of the game to secure the series with an 8-5 win.

A massive crowd of 660 fans were at the Jack to cheer the Bruins on and gave the team a raucous show of appreciation for the successes the team had all season. With more wins in a season than the team had seen in 30 years, and a first-place finish in the division in just as long, this Bruins team played hard and skilled and made every game an entertaining match worth watching all season long.

The Bruins have five 20-year old players who finish their Junior B careers with the end of the season: Cody Laybolt, Cody Quinney, Spencer Horning, Matteus Reis, and Karsten Gorrill. Reis and Gorrill have signed commitments to play college hockey for the Portage College Voyageurs next fall.

The Border Bruins and Nanaimo Clippers will once again hold a prospect camp in Grand Forks, April 7-9, in preparation for the 2023-2024 season starting in September.

Thank you to the sponsors and fans who backed the team through a fantastic season. See you in September!

Be Among The First To Know

Sign up for a free account today, and receive top headlines in your inbox Monday to Saturday.

Sign Up with google Sign Up with facebook

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Reset your password

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

A link has been emailed to you - check your inbox.

Don't have an account? Click here to sign up