The Uxbridge Bruins will have a much-deserved break over the next 10 days as they celebrate a first-place finish in the COJHL’s regular season standings.
The Bruins rebounded from a 6-2 loss in Bowmanville on Wednesday, Feb. 4, to skate to a 5-4 win over Little Britain at home on Friday, Feb. 6, before closing out the campaign with a 6-1 win over Port Perry in a Battle of North Durham on Sunday, Feb. 8.
The Merchants jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, and just over two minutes into the second period, doubled their advantage before Korey Brand scored just six seconds later to draw the Bruins back to within a goal.
Shortly afterwards, the Merchants would net a shorthanded goal, but powerplay tallies from Todd Winder and Daryl Thomson equalized the match at 3-3 heading into the third period
Just over five minutes into the third period, Marco Mastrangelo eluded the Little Britain defence and set up a great scoring chance for Tyson Eastgate, which was hammered home to give the Bruins their first lead of the night.
The Bruins would continue to barrage Little Britain netminder Garrett Haden with shots as the game wore on, eventually outshooting the Merchants by a margin of 46-13. But, with just under five minutes remaining, an incredible pad save by Haden left Uxbridge caught deep in Merchant territory, and Terry Snoddon scored on a perfectly placed shot at the other end of the ice to tie the game once more.
However, with just over two minutes left on the clock, Thomson slipped behind the Merchant defence and netted a spectacular breakaway goal to clinch a 5-4 victory for the Bruins.
Following the game, Bruins Head Coach Geoff Hodgkinson was pleased with the way his team had fought back to win the game, as well as clinch first-place overall in the table.
“I think we’re gong in the right direction. The way we fought back tonight speaks volumes about the type of character guys we have on this team that are completely in this for each other. It’s a really fun team to coach,” Hodgkinson told The Standard.
The COJHL regular season came to a close on Sunday, Feb. 8, with the Bruins in Port Perry for a ‘Battle of North Durham’ against the rival MoJacks.
The MoJacks would net the first goal of the game, but Uxbridge controlled the match for most of the afternoon, rolling to six straight goals, taking a 6-1 win and a 4-3 edge in the season series between the North Durham rivals.
Jarett Smith netted a pair of goals and an assist, with Brand, Ryan Miehm, Alex Williamson and Patrick Bolahood rounding out the Bruins’ scoring.
Uxbridge will now sit idle for 10 days as the fourth-seeded MoJacks battle the fifth-place Merchants in a best-three-out-of-five series for the right to square off with the Bruins in a best-of-seven semi-final series.
Hodgkinson noted that the time away from competition will be positive for the team, but is not without its potential drawbacks.
“The lay-off should give us a good opportunity to get rested and prepared for whichever team we end up playing. The downside of course is that we’re not staying in that competitive moment,” Hodgkinson explained. “At the end of the day, it’s a new season once we start playoffs and I predict that the postseason will be a great testament to the excellent competition this league has produced over the past five months.”
- Bruins goalie Branden Francey led the COJHL this season with 20 wins.
- It was announced during Friday night’s game that Terry Snoddon has been named as this season’s COJHL MVP after the Sunderland native led the league with 72 points (34 goals and 38 assists), including seven shorthanded points.
- Marco Mastrangelo led the Bruins in scoring the season with 55 points (28 goals and 27 assists). He also led the league with eight game-winning goals.