The journey to the Schmalz Cup came to an end for the Uxbridge Bruins over the weekend, as they were eliminated in six games by the Lakefield Chiefs, in the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s Orr Division semifinals.
Boosted by back-to-back wins last weekend, the Bruins held a 2-1 series lead when play resumed at the Bear Den on Monday, Feb. 27th. However, the offence went cold, and Uxbridge was unable to claw their way back into the win column, scoring just one goal over the final three games of the match-up.
The Bruins would fall 2-0 at home on Monday, and 3-0 in Lakefield on Tuesday before bowing out on a 2-1 loss at the Bear Den on Friday night, with the lone goal scored on a deflection in the first period by Simon Feig, with assists credited to Tavish Davidson and Derek Dolan.
Following the game, Bruins head coach Tim Evans was disappointed not to be moving on in the playoffs, yet very optimistic for the future of the team, after winning a hard fought seven-game series against the North Kawartha Knights and giving the first-place Chiefs all that they could handle over the course of six intense games.
“I’m very proud of our team and what we’ve been able to accomplish,” Evans explained to The Standard. “Throughout the year and into the playoffs, we really relied on our whole team to put the puck in the net. A year from now, guys that scored 10 or 15 goals will hopefully be scoring between 20 and 30. But, one goal in our last three games won’t get you very far and we had to score more.”
Returning to the Bruins’ bench after a 20-year layoff did present some challenges as Evans noted, but he expects the team to be able to take a leap next season, with more emphasis on skill development in the months ahead.
“There was a huge learning curve coming back to the level more than 20 years later, and the bottom line is that we’ve got to spend more time on drills to maximize our offense. I’ve made a commitment to this team, and there’s a tremendous opportunity here through a lot of frustration early this year.
Everyone on this team has learned a lot about character and what it takes to build a championship level team. That’s the goal we all share, bringing this town the provincial championship that it deserves,” added Evans.
As well, Evans praised the work put in by the team’s graduating players: Coby Gardner, Wes Cowie and Josh Burkholder, and noted that they had all provided leadership to a very young team.