The Uxbridge Bruins avenged a loss earlier this season to the Port Perry MoJacks, winning in a shootout by a score of 4-3 on the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 19 in another thrilling chapter of the Battle of North Durham.
A season-high crowd of more than 250 spectators at Scugog Arena saw the rivals trade scoring chances in the early portion of the match.
Dylan Locke would open the scoring for the Bruins with just under six minutes to play in the first period when he converted a wraparound. However, Konrad Piorkowski would slam in a rebound as the MoJacks enjoyed a powerplay with two minutes left in the opening period to tie the game heading into the middle stanza.
The MoJacks would take a 2-1 lead just over three minutes into the second when Kyle Schweda chipped the puck high over Branden Francey’s blocker, but less than two minutes later, Jarett Smith evened the score with a powerplay marker.
Steve Sampson’s first goal of the season restored the MoJacks’ lead with just over six minutes to play in the second, but the lead would not last, as Carter Vahey’s shot from the point on a Bruins’ powerplay knotted the score at 3-3 after forty minutes of play.
There was added intensity to the action as the third period dawned, with both sides desperately seeking the go-ahead goal.
However, the teams would match each other step for step, with the Bruins fending off a frantic finish to regulation time with frenzied action in the Uxbridge zone as Port Perry attempted to take advantage of a late powerplay opportunity, but could not beat Francey, so for the second time in two games this season in the Battle of North Durham, extra time was needed to determine a winner.
The Bruins caught a break less than 30 seconds into overtime, when a Bruins defender knocked the puck into his own net, only for the referee to rule it had been the result of a high stick.
Both teams had great opportunities down the stretch, with Jarett Smith ringing a shot off the post and Kyle Schweda denied on a breakaway. However, 65 minutes of play were not enough and the game headed to a shootout.
Locke beat MoJacks netminder Blake Shaw on the first attempt, with Cole Murray denied by Francey. Then, both Jarett Smith and Kyle Powell had their attempts turned aside. Marco Mastrangelo would end the game by beating Shaw high over his blocker to seal a 4-3 Bruins victory.
Coupled with a 5-2 win over the Clarington Eagles in Uxbridge on Friday, Oct. 17, the Bruins have now won three games in a row as of press time, a stretch that has invigorated the team, as well as Head Coach Geoff Hodgkinson, who added that with the added parity in the COJHL this season, every point will be crucial.
"Three-in-a-row has really got our spirits back up," Hodgkinson told The Standard. “A lot of teams in this league have gotten a lot deeper and it’s going to be a grind this season and ultimately come down to hard work and a matter of putting in the necessary effort for 60 minutes, or 65, like it was this afternoon.”
Meanwhile, MoJacks Head Coach Clair Cornish was pleased with the way his team had rebounded after falling by a score of 3-1 to the Georgina Ice in Keswick on Friday night. “Our team played well today, I thought we played to out identity and had a good bounce back effort after our last game,” said Cornish.
- Mastrangelo had a three point night with a goal and two assists against the Eagles on Friday night, as the Bruins picked up the first win of the season on home ice. Jarett Smith scored twice in the win, with Daryl Thomson and Alex Williamson chipping in with singles.
- Todd McNair netted the lone goal for the MoJacks against the Ice.
- The MoJacks welcomed the visiting Tilburg Trappers Under-15 team from the Netherlands during pre-game ceremonies on Sunday, including the playing of the Dutch national anthem.
- Both North Durham sides were in action on Tuesday, Oct. 21 (after press time) with Georgina in Uxbridge and the MoJacks visiting Lakefield.
- The Little Britain Merchants posted the biggest win of the season in the COJHL on Sunday, when they downed the North Kawartha Knights 10-0 in Apsley.
- The Bruins play just once this weekend, when the Merchants make their first appearance of the season in Uxbridge on Friday, Oct. 24, at 7:45 p.m.
- The MoJacks tangle with the Clarington Eagles at Scugog Arena on Sunday, Oct. 26, starting at 2:25 p.m. in the first meeting of the season between the teams.