DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
UXBRIDGE: The Bear Den was rocking on Friday, September 15th, as Uxbridge Bruins opened the 2023-24 Provincial Junior Hockey League regular season.
The team faced off against a formidable foe, the two-time defending Orr Division Cougar Cup champion and provincial runners-up, the Clarington Eagles. The Bruins came into the match-up looking for revenge after the Eagles ended their season last year in a four-game sweep in the Cougar Cup division championship round.
The Bruins fell behind early, with Clarington taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. In the second period, the Bruins began to claw their way back, with Ty Roberts and Matthew Gordon both scoring powerplay goals to tie the game just before the halfway point of the game. However, the lead wouldn’t hold as the Eagles soared back into the lead with another pair of powerplay goals to take a 4-2 advantage into the third period.
With the support of a lively home crowd behind them, the Bruins attacked the third period with tremendous enthusiasm. Just 22 seconds into the final frame, Noah Button charged into the offensive zone and converted a great cross-ice pass from Travis Winder to bring Uxbridge back to within a goal. With Uxbridge on the powerplay almost nine minutes into the third period, Anthony Lamanna picked up a pass from Quinn Meek. He blazed into the Clarington zone, snaking around a defender and scoring to knot the score at 4-4.
With just over seven minutes remaining in regulation, Button scored his second of the evening to put Uxbridge ahead 5-4, giving the home side their first lead of the evening as the Bruins faithful exploded with applause.
However, the lead wouldn’t last as the Eagle scored with just over two minutes remaining in regulation. The two teams would trade tremendous chances down the stretch, but Andrew Claughton made several spectacular saves in the Uxbridge net to hold the Eagles at bay, while his Clarington counterpart, Aiden Leger, blocked all scoring from the Bruins.
The back-and-forth action continued in the overtime period, with amazing scoring chances for both teams in the early stages of overtime. However, with the net knocked off its moorings, the Eagles were able to slip the puck over the goal line, and despite passionate protests from the Bruins, the goal was allowed to stand, and Clarington escaped with a 6-5 victory, giving Uxbridge a single point in the standings for an overtime loss.
- The Bruins will spend a rare Friday night away from the Bear Den this week as they travel to the Ice Palace in Keswick for a 7:30 p.m. match-up against the Georgina Ice.
- Elsewhere around the Orr Division over the weekend, the North Kawartha Knights skated to a 3-2 overtime win over the Little Britain Merchants in their home opener in Apsley on Saturday night.
- Tragedy struck the Bruins family last week as former player Mark Boyce passed away at the age of 36, on Thursday, Sept. 14. An extremely talented and popular player with his teammates, Boyce took tremendous pride in spending parts of four seasons with his hometown team between 2002 and 2007, winning the division scoring championship in the 2006-2007 season. Boyce leaves behind a remarkable Bruins legacy and ranks in the top 10 in team history in goals, assists, and points and the top 20 all-time in penalty minutes.