It was a packed but successful weekend for the Grand Forks Border Bruins, with Bruins captain, Chad Grambo, breaking out of a scoring slump last Saturday at the Jack Goddard Memorial Arena, leading his team to a 4-3 victory over the Columbia Valley Rockies.
Grambo’s last goal was his overtime winner against Beaver Valley on Dec. 18. On this night he wasted little time, scoring on a breakaway less than five minutes into the game. Yoan Rodrigue and Bears goaltender, Anthony Galliart, drew assists on the goal.
Speaking to Chad after the game, and referring to his first goals in several weeks, he expressed relief: “I’m glad to get the monkey off my back!”
The visitors responded with a pair of power play goals, the first off the stick of Riley Knott, the Rockies’ leading scorer. Then, with only 35 seconds on the clock, they took the lead with a goal by Brennan Nelson.
The Bears bounced back in the second with two goals on special teams; a shorthanded marker from Garret Brisebois, followed by Grambo’s second of the night and 20th of the season on a power play. However, the East Kootenay team continued to work hard and tied the game in the third when Mike Dyck found the back of the net.
The Bruins defeated this Columbia Valley squad early in the season by scores of 7-1 and 7-2 and so the crowd was expecting an easy win. However, as Grambo said after the game, “They are a good team.” Obviously, this fourth-place squad from the Eddie Mountain Division has added some depth and talent to their lineup since the crowd last saw them.
With the game tied at three, the hero of the night was rookie Noah Lemoine. He picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, skated in on goal, and fired a laser that handcuffed the Rockies netminder, Ben Kelsch. It was Lemoine’s ninth of the season.
As a result of Chad Grambo’s two goals, the Border Bruins now have a trio of 20-goal scorers. This has not happened in at least 12 seasons – It may even be longer, but available statistics only go back to the 2005-06 season. He joins teammates Trey Mason with 24 and Dylan Haney with 21. Grand Forks is also the first team this season, in the 20-team KIJHL, to claim three players in the 20 goal club, a noteworthy achievement.
The Bruins remain in third place but have increased their lead over the fourth place Nelson Leafs to three points while holding a game in hand. The Castlegar Rebels, who have also played one more game than the Bears, hold a commanding nine point margin over the locals.
With only five games remaining in their schedule Grand Forks, mathematically, could still end up in second place, and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs; however they will need to sweep an upcoming three game set against the Rebels, and have Spokane upset Castlegar on the final day of their regular schedule.
The Border Bruins have some momentum as they head down the stretch, with three wins and a tie in their last four games. They hosted Spokane last night (Tuesday) and will now prepare for their Neil Murdoch rivals from Castlegar.