The first season of the Grand Forks Border Bruins since KIJHL moved to Junior A is already shaping up to be a great one with two wins.
The team started off their exhibition games with a 5-3 win over the Castlegar Rebels on Sept. 2, then shut out the Osoyoos Coyotes 3-0.
Bagging two wins right out of the gate is of course a great way to start the season, but didn’t come as a surprise considering the quality of the players, said head coach and general manager David Hnatiuk.
On the first game with the Rebels, he said it was an exciting one with the Border Bruins bombarding Castlegar with shots on goal and fast, tight plays.
“We had a heavy presence on the shot clock, which was nice to see, and just overall the energy and the buy-in for the early structures and systems that they are playing,” said Hnatiuk. “It’s nice to see a group that’s caught on early and an exciting group to work with.”
That excitement was also felt in the stands, which Hnatiuk said definitely helps the team. Inside improvements to the Jack Goddard Arena, including a new Jumbotron and new paint, have given the team’s home a fresh and professional look and the fans a better view of play on the ice.
Once exhibition season is finished on Sept. 16, the Border Bruins start their regular season on the road against Summerland. Their first home game will be on Sept. 23 against Revelstoke, with a tailgate party and children’s shots on net games in the parking lot.
The team has been working hard for years to create not just a winning team, but one that the city and league can be proud of, said Hnatiuk.
Last July, the B.C. approved the KIJHL its Junior-A designation, starting with a tier two status. Teams have the chance to work their way up to tier one, which Hnatiuk said will attract even more talent to the league, further building on the already high quality play and development in the region.
“Obviously the move to Junior A is something that is exciting for our league and our town,” he said. “We are going to see an improved product now that BC Hockey have cleared the way to a Junior A-tier one league to be present in the province. The process now is to go from Junior A-tier two to tier one to hopefully one day compete in the national tournament.”
The hope is this will start a grassroots movement to get more children and youth to take up hockey, generate more players and improve the quality of teams overall, he said.
This story will be updated after Friday’s game.