Team captain Marco Mastrangelo is looking to take care of unfinished business as he begins his last year with the Uxbridge Bruins.
In all three seasons he has spent with the team, the 21-year-old Stouffville native has had to watch as another team celebrated a COJHL championship, with the Bruins bowing out of three straight Cougar Cup Finals.
“It’s been frustrating to watch, but it’s really driven me to push that much more to be able to go that extra distance this year,” Mastrangelo told The Standard. “I’m going to give it all I’ve got this year to get us all the way. This will be my last year in Uxbridge, and these great fans deserve a championship.”
He has embraced his new role as captain, acting as a mentor to the team’s younger players, while continuing to play a strong two-way game for the Bruins.
“I’m trying to play the same game I always have. But I know that guys are looking up to me and team success is the biggest thing for all of us. It’s important to try and guide and lead these younger guys as best I can so that they can adapt to this league and can continue the Bruins’ success for years to come,” explained Mastrangelo.
He added that he has seen his game evolve since joining the Bruins in the fall of 2012 after graduating from the Stouffville Clippers Midget ‘AA’ program.
“I’ve been through the same thing as a lot of our rookies might be going through this year. I know how they’re feeling some nights when they’re not playing. Or they maybe feel like they should be playing more. I’ll remind them to stay positive and contribute when they have the opportunity. My first year, I was mostly out on the third and fourth lines just trying to keep a regular shift and show the coaches what I could do,” added Mastrangelo.
He credits learning a more sound defensive game under then-head coach Dan West as a turning point in is junior hockey career.
“Playing a sound game on both sides was the most important thing to take my game to another level. Being in that shutdown role with Tim Bierema and Shane Smith my first year really helped to elevate my game to where I could be on the ice in every type of situation.”
The offensive game is still a major part of Mastrangelo’s game, and as of press time he sits tied for second in the COJHL scoring race with eight points (four goals and four assists) through five games.
Bruins head coach Geoff Hodgkinson knows how important the captain’s role is, having worn the ‘C’ for the Bruins 15 years ago, and ultimately leading the team to the OHA semi-finals.
“I was in his shoes 15 years ago. I didn’t have the talent Marco does, but we share a similar determination and ability to get teammates to come together. His leadership ability, on and off the ice, is why we chose him as our captain,” Hodgkinson explained to The Standard.
As well, Hodgkinson noted the positive impact having a player like Mastrangelo that has developed his role within the organization has had on his crop of first-year players.
“Marco has really stepped up his role every year and having a guy like him around, now as one of the top players in the league shows what a player can develop into at this level. And it shows that Uxbridge is a great place to be as a player, in my opinion, the best in Junior ‘C’ hockey.”
Over the weekend, the Bruins added to their impressive start to the COJHL season taking five of a possible six points.
On Thursday night (Sept. 25), the Bruins battled back in the third period to force overtime in Bowmanville against the Clarington Eagles, with Nicholas Sribny scoring the tying goal with just over two minutes to play. However, the Eagles would prevail by a score of 4-3.
Uxbridge rebounded the following night back on home ice, skating to a 4-3 win over the Lakefield Chiefs. Mastrangelo led the way with two goals and an assist, while Ryan Miehm and Daryl Thomson chipped in singles. Branden Francey stopped 41 Lakefield shots, picking up his first win of the season between the pipes.
On Sunday, Sept. 27, the Bruins wrapped up a busy weekend with a matinee match-up in Keswick against the Georgina Ice.The Bruins led 2-1 after the first period behind goals from Patrick Bolahood and Thomson. Second period goals from Jordan Nesbitt and a shorthanded marker from Mastrangelo swelled Uxbridge’s lead to three goals before the Ice scored late in the third period to round out the scoring as the Bruins doubled up Georgina 4-2.
- As of press time, Bruins forward Daryl Thomson sits tied with Clarington’s Brodie Myers for top spot in COJHL scoring with 10 points.
- This weekend will be another busy stretch for the Bruins, with the North Kawartha Knights visiting Uxrena at 7:45 p.m. on Friday. Oct.2. On Saturday, Oct. 3, they’ll look to spoil the Little Britain Merchants’ home opener in a 7:30 p.m. match-up. And finally, on Tuesday, Oct. 6, the Bruins make the first trip of the season to the shores of the Otonabee River, facing off against the Chiefs in Lakefield at 7:30 p.m.