Special to The Standard
The Port Perry MoJacks extended their Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) season-opening winning streak, to a remarkable 18 games over the weekend, surviving a scare in overtime against North Kawartha, before rolling to a decisive home-ice victory in ‘The Battle Of North Durham’ against the rival Uxbridge Bruins.
On the night of Saturday, Nov. 12th, the MoJacks put their perfect start on the line, when they headed to Apsley for a showdown with a red-hot North Kawartha Knights team that had won six of their previous seven contests. In a back-and-forth match-up, with several sensational sequences for both teams, the MoJacks out-dueled the Knights, winning 4-3 in overtime, on a game-winning-goal by Liam Schweda.
The MoJacks took a 2-1 lead in the first period, behind two goals from Toby Cooper. However, a North Kawartha goal, with just 21 seconds remaining in second period, set up a frantic finish to the action then. The MoJacks restored their lead, just over five minutes into the third period, behind Matt Trudel’s first goal of the campaign. The Knights would come charging back once more, through netting a powerplay goal with just over five minutes left in regulation, which sent the game to sudden-death overtime, where Schweda would prove to be the hero, assisted by Cooper and Brady Martin just over two minutes into the extra frame.
The MoJacks would have little time to recover before their next test, when the Uxbridge Bruins visited on Sunday afternoon, for a matinee match-up in the ‘Battle of North Durham’ at Scugog Arena.
Another pair of first period goals from Cooper, both scored on the powerplay, gave the home side a 2-0 advantage through the end of the first period. Special teams would continue to play a prominent role in the second period. Bruins goalie Jake Joosten stymied the Port Perry powerplay early in the frame with a series of sensational saves. However, just past the midpoint of the frame, Ryan Bernades picked off a Bruins pass in the neutral zone, and streaked in alone on Joosten, scoring a shorthanded goal to extend the Uxbridge lead to 3-0.
The Bruins would continue battling though, and almost six minutes later, with Uxbridge now killing a penalty, Damien Heinle broke in on MoJacks netminder Jacob Lebel, and although Lebel would get a pad on Heinle’s shot, Nick Sribny charged in to slam in the rebound to bring Uxbridge to within two goals.
That would be as close as the Bruins would get however, as Lucas Berkers added a third period goal, to round out the scoring in a 4-1 MoJacks victory.
The Bruins weekend began on a down note on home ice, as they watched a 2-0 lead disappear in the final six minutes of regulation, as the Georgina Ice skated to a 4-3 victory. Liam Timewell, Heinle and Simon Fieg scored for the Bruins, in their first loss to Georgina in almost three years, dating back to Jan. 24, 2014.
- The MoJacks are now within striking distance of history, and will have a chance at tying the old Central League’s longest winning streak, a 20 game run for the Lakefield Chiefs, in their Clarence Schmalz Cup championship season of 2013-14. Standing in their way this weekend will be a home-and-home encounter with the Clarington Eagles. Round one takes place in Bowmanville, at 7:25 p.m., on Thursday night, before shifting back to Port Perry on Sunday afternoon.
- Former Bruins defenceman Jordan Nesbitt was one of the linesmen for Sunday’s ‘Battle of North Durham’, who now works his first season as an official for the Ontario Hockey Association.
- The MoJacks are now one of just two undefeated teams remaining in the PJHL along with the Port Hope Panthers.
- It’s a quiet weekend for the Bruins, with just one game on the docket, a Friday night home game against the Lakefield Chiefs at the Bear Den, at 7:45 p.m., on Nov. 18th.
- The Little Britain Merchants will look to halt their recent slide with a pair of weekend home games, at 7:30 p.m., on Saturday night against Georgina, and a Sunday night tilt, also at 7:30 p.m., against Lakefield.