Photo Caption: Ethan Pyrcz celebrates his first career KIJHL goal on Friday night against the Chiefs. Photo by Peter Kalasz (

Photo Caption: Ethan Pyrcz celebrates his first career KIJHL goal on Friday night against the Chiefs. Photo by Peter Kalasz (

Bruins Split Weekend Against Kelowna and Beaver Valley

Kevin McKinnon

Grand Forks Border Bruins

The Kelowna Chiefs were in town on Friday night for the first time in five seasons for the only meeting of the year between the Kootenay and Okanagan Conference teams. The Chiefs hadn’t had a win in the previous eight games, struggling this season at the back of the pack in the Ohlhausen (South Okanagan) division.

Despite that, the Chiefs struck first on the scoreboard with a goal midway through the first period by Parker MacDonald after he dropped the puck back to Zach Peitch in the slot then picked up the rebound from Peitch’s shot on Ewan Soutar, deflecting the puck in the net just over Soutar’s left leg. Kelowna outshot the Bruins 17-12 in the first period.

In the second period, the Bruins turned up the pressure, getting 25 shots on Kelowna netminder Brendan Smith to the Chiefs 11 shots on the Bruins. Less than two minutes into the period, Ethan Pyrcz’s quick shot from the far point, off a pass from Spencer Horning, found its way to the Kelowna net through traffic to tie the game – Pyrcz’s first career KIJHL goal. The Bruins added another 8 minutes later when Jonah Smith fired a shot from a sharp angle to the left of Brendan Smith, catching the edge of the net glove-side.

Kelowna bounced back with Jaxon Rebman’s second goal of the season at 16:56 to tie the game, but before the period was out Karsten Gorrill got his own second of the season with less than a minute on the clock off a pass from Chad Bates. The Bruins had the lead at the second break.

In the third period, the Bruins extended their lead to 2 with Gorrill’s second goal of the night from Pyrcz and Russell Kosec. Kelowna had a quick response 34 seconds later by Aiden Morcom from Patrick Ferrie and Matthew Keylor, but the Bruins held their lead through the rest of the period. Although missing the empty net late in the period, the Bruins made the best of the subsequent face off in the Kelowna zone, with Brendan Smith back in the net, when Ray Warrack passed the puck from behind the net to Horning open in the slot for the insurance goal. The final score on Friday night, Bruins 5, Chiefs 3.

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks arrived Saturday night fresh off an overtime victory at home the night before against the Columbia Valley Rockies.

The Bruins controlled the first period, outshooting the Hawks 14-8 with Jonah Smith scoring his 25th goal of the season, and extending his goal streak to 5 games, three minutes into the game with an assist from Ray Warrack. Bruins Captain Jackson Smith had the lone goal of the second period just 39 seconds into the frame on a play setup by Reid Schechtel and Karsten Gorrill, putting the Bruins ahead by 2 at the second intermission.

Late in the third period, a minute and seven seconds turned the game around. At 16:13, while shorthanded, Timothy Jozsa picked up a rebound off the boards in the Beaver Valley end and sped up the left side unopposed and scored on Ethan Shebansky over the left shoulder just catching the top left corner of the net. Just after the Bruins penalty expired, Kaleb Percival played the puck ahead from the Nitehawks end to Boris Hristov, waiting at the Bruins blue line. Hristov skated straight in on Shebansky ahead of two Bruins defenders and put the puck in the net to tie the game at 2 apiece.

Five minutes of overtime solved nothing, so the game proceeded to a shoot-out. Beaver Valley had the first shot, and Tyson Tokarz scored on Shebansky with his first goal against his former team since being traded in December. Matteus Reis was the first shooter for the Bruins, and with a slow approach got Smith to move left while he shot right and tied the contest. Nathan Dominici and Jonah Smith were both stopped on their shots, but Kaleb Percival beat Shebansky on the third shot, while Horning was unable to do the same on Smith at the other end. Picking up one point for the regulation tie, the Bruins surrendered two points to the Nitehawks in the tight race for top spot in the Murdoch division.

Beaver Valley’s two wins on the weekend moved them to within two points of the Bruins, while the Nelson Leafs sit in third place, four points back. The Bruins and Nitehawks both have two games in-hand over the Leafs, and will play Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday for the next two weeks to wind up the regular season.

Bruins Coach Dave Hnatiuk noted after Saturday’s game that “[e]very game for the next two weeks will be the most important game of the year”, given that the Bruins, Nitehawks, and Leafs play divisional rivals through many of the remaining games.

The Bruins will be in Nelson to wrap up January on Tuesday the 31st, then will start the weekend in Castlegar on Friday night, returning to the Jack on Saturday night to face the Ohlhausen division-leading Princeton Posse.

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