Grand Forks Border Bruins
The Border Bruins retain their lead atop the Neil Murdoch division of the KIJHL following a pair of weekend wins.
On Friday night, the Bruins hosted the Nelson Leafs.
The Bruins had a few power plays in the first period, but the Leafs penalty kill units were able to keep the game scoreless. Late in the period, Russell Kosec took a shot from the point which was tipped by Spencer Horning past Leafs’ netminder Frederick Larochelle to give Grand Forks a 1-0 lead at the first intermission.
With less than 90 seconds to go in the second period, Jonah Smith passed across ice to Cody Laybolt open on the near side. Laybolt carried the puck long enough to get Larochelle to drop to his knees, then took the shot over the left shoulder for the Bruins second goal. Just 25 seconds later, Tyson Kistner took shot from the blue line that went just wide, but Chad Bates was in position to pass the puck out to Jackson Smith in the slot – with Larochelle still reacting to the first attempt, Smith scored his fourth of the season to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes.
Cam Bryant got his second goal of the season five minutes into the third period, deflecting an Ethan Pyrcz shot from the open side of the crease putting the Bruins up 4-0. The Leafs prevented the shutout at 12:30 when Crae Dawson, acquired at the trade deadline from the Osoyoos Coyotes, took a shot from the high slot which was deflected by Ryan Quast with plenty of traffic in front of Ewan Soutar.
Down by three, the Leafs pulled their goaltender early from the extra attacker, with over six minutes left in the period. Spencer Horning stole the puck from Dawson Davis and flipped it to Jonah Smith. Smith got around Reid Vulcano and Carsyn Crawford at the Nelson blue line and put the puck in the empty net. The final score on Friday night, 5-1 Bruins.
An amazing crowd of 638 fans at the Jack were entertained during the first intermission with a short exhibition game by the local U-9 players, and viewers online heard about the Spokane Braves’ plans to return to the league next season when that team’s media producer Frank Guill joined the Bruins Broadcast crew on HockeyTV during the second intermission.
Despite the loss on Friday night, the Leafs clinched a playoff spot thanks to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks’ defeat of the Castlegar Rebels.
The Bruins travelled to Fruitvale on Saturday night to play the Nitehawks, coming off that win the night before in Castlegar.
Both teams played hard in the first period, but both Ewan Soutar and Connor Stojan played an excellent period in net, each stopping 16 shots and keeping the game scoreless through 20 minutes.
Late in the second period, Ollie Clement was in a good position at the Bruins blue line to pick off a pass and rush in unopposed, with his goal putting the Nitehawks up 1-0.
The Bruins had a strong first two minutes of the third period. Just 45 seconds into the period, Laybolt got the puck to Horning at the far hash marks and his shot beat Stojan to tie the game. At the two-minute mark, Kosec made a stretch pass from deep in the Bruins zone to Theo Naidu ahead of the Nitehawks defenders at the opposing blue line. Unopposed, Naidu scored on Stojan putting the Bruins in the lead. The Bruins held the lead for 13:38, when Lucas Gartner picked up a rebound and put the shot through traffic past Soutar. The game headed to overtime. Playing 3-on-3, the teams were evenly matched playing end-to-end when the Bruins took a penalty resulting in a Nitehawks penalty shot. Boris Hristov was unable to defeat Soutar one-on-one, and the overtime continued. With five seconds remaining in overtime, Chad Bates received the puck for a breakaway up the far side, and with fractions of a second to spare he scored a buzzer-beater giving the Bruins the overtime win.
The Bruins host the Nelson Leafs again on Tuesday night, January 17, and will play their last extended road trip next weekend in the North Okanagan, facing the Revelstoke Grizzlies on Friday night and the Sicamous Eagles on Saturday. Road games can be seen online on HockeyTV.