Schools opened this week and students and teachers launched a new year, marking for many the end of summer.
In late August the Grand Forks Border Bruins opened their training camp and have already completed their exhibition season. The hockey season is upon us!
The interest and anticipation is higher than it’s been for two decades after a very successful 2015-16 season. The Bruins ended a 19-year playoff drought, making it to the Neil Murdoch Division final, before losing to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, who incidentally have won seven KIJHL championships, more than any of the current 20 teams in the league.
Grand Forks played four exhibition games in six days last week to get ready for the new campaign. They opened and closed with contests against the Osoyoos Coyotes, the other two versus the Spokane Braves.
Exhibition games are about determining a team’s final roster, experimenting with line combinations and molding the players into a cohesive unit.
Having said that, the fans who were at the final exhibition game last Friday went home on a high note, and if the regular season produces contests like this, I’d advise you to pick up your season tickets and mark all the Border Bruins games on your calendar.
The always tough Coyotes from Canada’s desert grabbed a 2-1 lead with seven minutes remaining in the game. The lead was short-lived as Chad Grambo tied the game 33 seconds later. Grambo is one of several returning players from last year.
With the clock winding down, newcomer Reese Tambellini fed Garrett Brisebois a great pass and Brisebois, with 32 seconds left, fired a perfect shot past a surprised Osoyoos goaltender—final score 3-2.
A noisy and enthusiastic crowd at the Jack Goddard Memorial Arena went home happy, feeling optimistic about the upcoming season.
Grambo is the Bruins’ new captain and I spoke with him after the game. He is in his second season playing in Grand Forks. Last year he led the team in scoring and says he is happy to be back.
Grambo is from Birch Hills, Saskatchewan, a small town with a population of around 1000. The town’s slogan is “A Small Town with a Big Heart” and there may be a message there for Grand Forks as it relates to our junior hockey team.
These players will be living for several months in our city. This is home to them through the fall, winter and into the spring. An opportunity exists to open our hearts and make them feel welcome; supporting these young hockey players by not only cheering them on at the arena but also embracing them as part of the wider community over the coming months.
Although the roster is not yet finalized we can say there will be some local talent on the club which should further enhance interest in the team.
After I spoke with Grambo in the noisy post-game atmosphere of the dressing room, I drove home thinking that we really are blessed to have this hockey team in our community. The Bruins deserve our support for they enhance our community by being here.
Other returning players from last season include Dylan Haney, who led the Bruins in 2015-16 with 20 goals and Trey Mason, who garnered the most assists with 26.
The first regular season game is at home on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m.. Be there to “Pack the Jack”!