8-3 loss at Spokane (Dec. 20)
The Grand Forks Border Bruins ended their 2013 portion of the KIJHL schedule with a rough 8-3 blow-out in Spokane. A win could’ve moved the Bruins within one of their Neil Murdoch division foes for the fourth and final play-off spot. But now the Bears sit five points out and hold an eight game losing streak.
While their is plenty of time left in the season to straighten things out, the Bruins window of opportunity shrinks with each loss.
In Spokane, Connor Gross opened up the scoring, giving the Bears a 1-0 lead at 16:23 of the first period. After that it was all Braves, as the KIJHL’s open American squad scored four unanswered to go up 4-1 and cruised to an 8-3 win. Tucker Brown scored the other two Bruin goals.
The Braves outshot GF 51-50. The Bruins were reduced to having two AP goalies, with Dominick Stadynk still injured and Kai MacDonald playing up in Trail for the Smoke Eaters for the weekend.
Spencer Kozlowski gave up five goals in 27 shots before being pulled in favour of Connor Neurauter, who let in three goals in 24 shots.
6-0 loss to BV (Dec. 17)
It was a tough evening all around on Tuesday when the Bruins hosted Beaver Valley in a rare mid-week home game.With a depleted roster and a small crowd, the Border Bears were drilled 6-0 by the visiting Nitehawks.After a scoreless first period, BV opened it up in the second with four unanswered goals including two on the power play and one short-handed.Beaver Valley would finish with two more for the easy win after out-shooting the Bruins 64-21.Poor Kai MacDonald did his best to hold down the fort in net for GF, stopping 58 of 64 shots.MacDonald’s patience and fortitude paid off with a weekend call up to Trail Smoke Eaters of the Junior A BCJHL. MacDonald will suit up for former coach Nick Deschenes, who left the Bruins mid-season to take over the struggling Smokies.Grand Forks were at Spokane Friday night (after press time) looking to snap their eight game losing streak.InjuriesThe Bruins continue to be bit by the injury bug. In fact, for the staff and players, the Christmas break couldn’t come soon enough.After playing in Spokane Friday, GF will be off for 13 days returning on Jan. 3 to play in North Okanagan. The team is expected to have most of their injured stars back including high scoring forward Jackson Purvis and top goaltender Dominick Stadnyk.“We’re hoping everyone is going to home and heal up and come back ready to play,” said assistant coach Matt Zamec. Purvis, who led the KIJHL in scoring for much of the first month of the season, has been out since Nov. 16 with a concussion.“We’re hoping he’ll be back after the new year,” said Zamec. “It’s something you want to be careful with. The kid’s got a career ahead of him. He’ll be playing at a higher level somewhere next year either Junior A or university. We want to make sure he heals up and think about that part of his development.”In addition to his scoring, the Bruins really miss Purvis’ leadership, said Zamec.“He’s the captain,” he said. “He’s the top scorer, obviously, but he’s just a leader. He doesn’t say much but his presence just adds so much. His calm confidence just rubs off on the whole team. He was a big part of our success. It’ll be huge to have him back.”Purvis had 15 goals and 34 points in 19 games when he was injured.Stadnyk, meanwhile, has been missing from the Bruins’ line-up almost as long. He was the top goalie with a 3.18 goals against average and a record of eight wins, four losses and one tie.“Dom had a separated shoulder but he’s pretty much recovered,” said Zamec. “He’s been practicing with the team. He’s going to be ready to go after Christmas.”Stadynk’s experience and skill will certainly give the Bruins a boost and help take the pressure of MacDonald.“He’s a 20 year-old goalie,” said Zamec. “He’s been in the league a number of years. He’s a rock back there. Like Purvis, he has a quiet confidence. When you have players like that in the line-up, you just believe that you will win. It’ll be huge to have those guys back.”Zamec said that the injuries have given other players a chance to step up and success, particularly MacDonald and forward Mike Rand.“Some of the kids have stepped up huge,” said Zamec. “Mike Rand has moved into the first line to take Purvis’ spot and he’s been huge. Some of the younger guys have really stepped up their game as well.”