Special to The Standard
The Uxbridge Bruins are heading to the Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) playoffs this weekend, as they look to dethrone the North Kawartha Knights in the Orr Division semi-finals, following a fifth-place finish in the regular season standings.
The best-of-seven game series is slated to begin in Apsley later this week, with Game 2 slated for Friday night, Feb. 10th, at the Bear Den, with the action getting underway at 7:45 p.m. Game 4 is back in Uxbridge on Monday, Feb. 13th at 8:30 p.m., and if necessary, Game 6 will be played in Uxbridge on Friday, Feb. 17th, at the usual 7:45 p.m. start-time. Game dates and times for the contests in Apsley were not available as of The Standard’s press time, please visit www.UxbridgeBruins.com for all of the latest updates.
This past weekend, the Bruins closed out the regular season with a 6-4 Friday night loss, on home ice to the Clarington Eagles, before battling the Merchants to a 1-1 tie in Little Britain on Saturday night.
The Eagles took an early lead at the Bear Den on Friday night, before Jackson Evans stormed into the offensive zone, scoring, as his burst of speed carried him past the net and into the boards, where he was swarmed in appreciation by his teammates. The tie would not last long, however, and shortly afterwards the Eagles retook the lead, adding another score just over a minute into the second period, to open a 3-1 lead on the Bruins.
Just past the midpoint of the second though, Uxbridge clawed their way back. A powerplay goal by Jack Schnalzer brought the Bruins back to within one. And six minutes later, Simon Feig slammed a loose puck past the Clarington netminder, to knot the game 3-3 through 40 minutes of action.
The Eagles would waste little time swooping back down on the Bruins in the third period, scoring a powerplay goal less than a minute into the action. However, Uxbridge once again battled right back, with Derek Dolan scoring less than two minutes later, to tie things up 4-4. However, that would be as close as the Bruins would get, with Clarington adding two more goals to take a 6-4 victory.
The following evening, the Bruins closed out the campaign with a trip to Little Britain, for a match-up with the Merchants. The teams traded scoring chances throughout the opening period, but neither was able to find the back of the net. A 20 minute delay occurred with just 11 seconds remaining in the first period, as arena staff worked to replace a broken pane of glass.
The longer layoff did little to dampen the enthusiasm on both sides, as they resumed a brisk back-and-forth pace to start the second period. With just over six minutes remaining in the second, dynamic passing between Dolan and Schanlzer gave Feig extra time and space, which he used to loft the puck over the outstretched stick of the Merchants’ goalie, to give Uxbridge a 1-0 advantage.
Just 30 seconds into the third period, Aidan Renouf netted a powerplay goal to even the score, and that would round out the scoring, as both sides traded remarkable chances throughout the third period and into overtime. However, they could not solve the sensational saves made by Uxbridge’s Jake Joosten and Little Britain’s Adam Harris.
Bruins head coach, Tim Evans noted that he felt the weekend, while it didn’t produce a win, still left his team brimming with confidence heading into their post-season duel with the Knights.
“We’ve done a great job of staying within our systems and I think we’re ready for the next challenge. We had some tough bounces, but we’re preparing to spend the next few days reviewing our videos and preparing for the playoffs.”
- Damien Heinle was Uxbridge’s leading scorer this season, with 31 points (14 goals and 17 assists) while playing in all 42 games. Adam Bartholomew was hot on his heels with 30 points. Dolan led the way in scoring, among the eight Uxbridge natives, with 25 points on the season. Defenceman Kyle Spataro was the only other Bruin, besides Heinle, to appear in every regular season contest.