Despite picking up only one of a possible four points last weekend in two home games, the Grand Forks Border Bruins showed their fans, and most importantly, themselves, that they can compete with other teams in this league.
A common phrase that we hear, cascading from the stands at the Jack Goddard Memorial Arena, is “Shoot the Puck!” Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the team responded by firing 112 shots on goal, 56 in each game. Now some will say, “But they didn’t win.” However winning in sports is a process with a team working together towards that objective as the season progresses.
On Saturday they faced the Golden Rockets, the fourth place team in the tough Eddie Mountain Division. Down by three goals heading into the final frame, the Bruins fired 31 shots at Rockets goalkeeper Ryan Baker, registering goals by Josh Garlough-Bell, his second of the game, and Ethan Holub, his first as a Border Bruin. Ethan’s brother Keaghan had opened the scoring less than three minutes into the game with his third of the year.
However, just over a minute after Ethan scored, Golden’s leading scorer, Dominic Turner, notched his 11th of the season, making the final 6-4 and dashing any hopes of a Bruins comeback. The final shot total was 56-33 in favour of Grand Forks.
Nineteen hours later the Border Bruins hosted the always tough Beaver Valley Nitehawks. The Hawks are tied for first with Nelson in the Neil Murdoch Division of the KIJHL. It was unfortunate for fans that missed this contest, as it was one of the most entertaining games in a long while.
After a scoreless opening 20 minutes the teams split six goals in the middle period. Grand Forks goals were scored by Josh Garlough-Bell, Liam Stalwick and Briar Whyte. Former Bruins forward Reese Tambellini notched one of the goals for the Nitehawks.
The teams traded goals in the third period with Stalwick’s second of the game sending it into overtime. In the second extra period Angus Amadio fired home the winner for Beaver Valley.
Heartbreaking for the home team for sure, yet the fact that they once again outshot their opponent, this time 56-36, is a positive indicator.
A trio of Bruins dominated the two games. Briar Whyte, Liam Stalwick and Josh Garlough-Bell finished with a combined total of 17 points. Stalwick, a smooth skater with good size, is a force to be reckoned with when the effort is present.
Liam, from Red Deer, Alta., registered six goals and seven assists in 40 games last season for the Bruins. This year he has produced five goals and eight assists in only nine games. The two Edmontonians, Whyte and Garlough-Bell, a newcomer to the squad, joined the team late, yet have 12 and eight points respectively in six games.
The Border Bruins had only 44 minutes in penalties in the two games, a distinct improvement from leading the league in this department in the early going. The Bears remain in fourth place in the Neil Murdoch Division, five points behind the surprising Spokane Braves, and three points ahead of Castlegar. Despite picking up only one of a possible four points over the holiday weekend, the team provided a dose of optimism for their fans. The goaltending and defence still require improvement.
A huge test awaits the Bruins this coming Friday at 7 p.m. when they host the Kelowna Chiefs, the top team in the KIJHL. Kelowna has not lost a game in regulation time this season. Their roster includes the top three scorers in the 20 team league, led by Brody Dale who has 33 points in 11 games.
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