Editor’s note: Updated with quotes from players and coaches.
The Grand Forks Border Bruins earned their fourth win of the season, and first win at Grand Forks Arena in two years, defeating the Kimberley Dynamiters 5-4 on Saturday.
While the team dropped a home-and-home series against the Nelson Leafs the two days previous (5-3 and 6-2 losses respectively), the team responded in its third game in three nights with a hat trick from forward Connor Bowen and goals from Chase Anchikoski and Connor Gross.
Goalie Dominic Stadnyk earned his third win of the season, stopping 37 of 41 shots.
Bowen was aptly named the game’s first star and currently is third in team scoring with eight goals and eight assists.
“There were some great passes from some great players (Jacob Jeske, Connor Gross, Nathan Cory, Connor Kidd had assists) and I just happened to put the puck in the net,” Bowen said postgame.
The Bruins’ top line normally consists of Gross and Jeske with Jackson Purvis, but Purvis sustained a charley horse injury on Thursday, meaning Bowen was moved back into the top line, a space he was in earlier in the season.
“They mashed up a couple of players together and I think we clicked and maybe we’ll see (the same combination) if Purvis is still out, maybe if he comes back in, we’ll swap it up a little bit,” opined Bowen.
With Border Bruins’ head coach and general manager Nick Deschenes away at a coaching clinic, assistant coaches Matt Zamec and Scott Savitskoff manned the bench and both were happy with the team.
“Bowen stepped up with a huge game when we needed him, with Purvis out, he stepped up and got a hat trick,” said Savitskoff. “We have that depth and I think that’s what’s really helping us out.”
Zamec, a longtime assistant, has been with the team through some rough times and while the team still is in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League basement, he sees the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
“The boys have been playing well lately, things are coming together and I think we’re going to start coming out on the right end of things here more often than not,” Zamec said. “The boys put in a good effort, Dom played great in net, Kimberley came in a little short (on the bench) but it had all its skilled guys.”
The game wasn’t without drama though as the Border Bruins saw a 5-3 lead cut down to 5-4 at the 3:13 mark of the third. In addition, a brouhaha ensued after the final buzzer with all the players on the ice but didn’t amount to much.
“It was kind of funny. I kind of knew it was going to happen looking at their game (Friday) against Spokane (a 6-2 loss with a penalty laden third period),” explained Stadnyk, adding that he was too busy celebrating to care.
“The next thing I know, everyone’s piling up in the corner,” he said.
Zamec said Purvis is day-to-day and could see action this weekend as the team travels to play games in Nelson, Columbia Valley, Golden and Kimberley.