The Port Perry MoJacks snapped a recent five-game winning streak for the Uxbridge Bruins with a 2-1 victory in the latest round of the Battle of North Durham at Scugog Arena on Sunday, Nov. 30.
The MoJacks’ win came just two days after their own recent nine-game winning streak was halted by the Georgina Ice in Keswick on Friday night in a 5-4 shootout loss.
The Bruins meanwhile, came into Sunday’s clash with their arch rivals from Port Perry just three points behind the league-leading MoJacks, and riding a five-game win streak following a 4-2 triumph over the North Kawartha Knights in Uxbridge on Friday, Nov. 28.
In the three prior meetings between the North Durham rivals this season, extra time was needed to determine a winner and Sunday’s meeting proved close right from the opening face off. Both sides matched each other step for step in the opening 20 minutes of Sunday’s match, with neither team able to find the back of the net.
The Bruins’ offence was dealt a blow with just over six minutes to play in the first period, when leading scorer Marco Mastrangelo was ejected after being whistled for checking from behind. This ended a 14-game streak in which the 20-year-old Stouffville native had registered a point, including 11-in-a-row with a goal.
A powerplay goal from Cole Murray gave Port Perry a 1-0 lead just over five minutes into the second period, with Kyle Powell and Graham Lamers picking up assists on the play.
However, just past the midpoint of the second, the MoJacks lost a player due to a checking from behind penalty, when Konrad Piorkowski was shown the gate, ending the afternoon for Port Perry’s second leading scorer.
Uxbridge would equalize the match 1-1 on the ensuing powerplay when Carter Vahey beat MoJacks netminder Blake Shaw, assisted by Adam Bartholomew and Daryl Thomson.
Just over four minutes later though, Kyle Schweda would put the MoJacks back on top, when he parlayed a pass from fellow Port Perry native Lucas Clark past Uxbridge goalie Branden Francey.
There were numerous tense moments for the crowd of more than 200 on hand during the third period, with both sides submitting sensational scoring chances that were matched by equally impressive goaltending. Schweda second period score would hold up as the winner, as Port Perry took a three-games-to-one leading in the season series of the Battle of North Durham.
The MoJacks’ weekend began with the team needing last minute heroics from Jeff St. Pierre to salvage a point in Keswick against the Georgina Ice on Friday, Nov. 28.
First period goals from Murray, Clark and St. Pierre gave Port Perry a 3-1 advantage through the opening 20 minutes of action.
Georgina would cut the MoJacks’ lead to a single goal almost six minutes into the middle frame. Then , less than a minute later, Shaw stopped a penalty shot attempt by Matt McIntyre to keep Port Perry ahead. The lead would not last though, as the Ice tied knotted the game 3-3 with just over four minutes to play in the second, setting the stage for an entertaining third period.
An Ice goal with just under nine minutes to play gave the home side their first lead of the evening. However, the MoJacks continued to attack, and with just 25 seconds left on the clock, St. Pierre converted a pass from Alex Carnevale to send the game to overtime.
Both goaltenders denied scoring opportunities throughout the extra frame, sending the game to a shootout to determine a winner. Two Georgina shooters scored, while only Lucas Berkers could convert for the MoJacks, giving the Ice a 5-4 victory.
Meanwhile, in Uxbridge on Friday night, the Bruins were doing battle with the North Kawartha Knights.
After a scoreless first period, Alex Siblock gave the Bruins the lead with a perfectly placed wrist shot after getting a great pass out of the defensive zone from Jordan Nesbitt. Just 26 seconds later, Tyson Eastgate doubled Uxbridge’s lead, with Siblock and Mastrangelo notching assists.
With just 10 seconds remaining in the second and the Bruins on the powerplay, Vahey took advantage of the extra time and space as he found Mastrangelo down low, and he shoveled the puck over the goal line to put Uxbridge ahead by a score of 3-0.
The Bruins continued to control the play in the third period, until the Knights notched a powerplay goal with four-and-a-half minutes to play. Just over two minutes later, North Kawartha struck again, cutting Uxbridge’s lead to a single goal with just over two minutes left in regulation.
After several saves by Bruins goalie Jake Joosten in a frantic finish, Alex Williamson cleared the puck to Shane Smith, who outpaced a pair of defencemen before calmly depositing the puck into the empty net to seal a 4-2 victory for Uxbridge.
Following the game , Bruins bench boss Geoff Hodgkinson praised the play of the expansion Knights, in particular goalie James Hack who bore the brunt of the Uxbridge offence, as the Bruins outshot North Kawartha 51-21.
“They definitely caused us havoc at points tonight. I think they’ve found something in their goaltending and Hack is a special talent who’s given us a lot of trouble this year,” Hodgkinson told The Standard. “Possession wise, I thought that we controlled the play for most of the play tonight. When you’re in the driver’s seat in this league, you have to keep your foot on the pedal and I thought we let off a bit tonight and they were able to almost make us pay for it.
Bruins captain Vahey credited the team’s strong play of late to an influx of new talent, which was needed on Friday night, as Jarett Smith was helped off the ice in the first period after sliding awkwardly into the boards.
“We’ve had a few games so far this year when key guys were out, and younger guys have really stepped up with great contributions. They’re a hungry bunch that really want to play hockey and prove themselves at this level, and that enthusiasm rubs off on the veterans too.”
- The Bruins would like to thank all of the fans who donated to the Loaves and Fishes food bank through the Care-A-Van om Friday night.
- On Friday, Dec. 12, the Bruins will be holding a Teddy Bear Toss when they host the Georgina Ice.
- The MoJacks will be holding their annual Wooly Toss on Sunday, Dec. 14, when the Lakefield Chiefs visit Scugog Arena.
- It will be a quiet weekend for the MoJacks after a visit to Lakefield on Tuesday, Dec. 2 (after The Standard’s press deadline). In their lone game of the weekend, Port Perry plays host to the Clarington Eagles on Sunday, Dec. 7, with the action getting underway at 2:25 p.m.
- This weekend, the Bruins will entertain the Eagles in Uxbridge on Friday, Dec. 5, at 7:45 p.m. They’ll hit the road on Sunday, Dec. 7, traveling to Apsley for 7:20 p.m. tilt with the Knights.