DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
After spening the last years of his minor hockey career with the Central Ontario Wolves and Oshawa Minor Generals, Ben Kerry is thrilled to be back playing in front of hometown crowds at Scugog Arena as a rookie defenceman with the Port Perry MoJacks.
Although the 5’11” 175 lb. blueliner did suit up in four games with the MoJacks last season, he noted that there has been an adjustment period as he transitions to the COJHL.
“It’s a lot different environment from Midget ‘AAA’,” Kerry explained to The Standard following the MoJacks’ recent 6-0 win over the Bruins in Uxbridge. “At this level, the game moves a lot faster and every player is good. And, most are a lot stronger than you would play against in minor hockey. The time I spent with the team last year has helped a lot, but it’s still a big difference at Junior ‘C’.”
He made an immediate impact this season, scoring the MoJacks’ first goal of the season in a 7-3 win over Lakefield in September on a shot from the point. Currently, he has one goal and one assist, seeing action in all 12 games Port Perry has played thus far, but he will be looking to add more offence as he gains additional confidence with his game at the Junior ‘C’ level.
“Scoring the first goal of the year at home was great just to get the monkey off my back. I’ve been trying to balance offence with defence and make plays at both ends of the ice. Hopefully I’ll be able to chip in some more goals and assists as the season goes on,” added Kerry.
MoJacks head coach Clair Cornish praised Kerry’s work ethic and desire to expand his role with the team when speaking with The Standard.
“Ben has been a great addition to our club, he’s always here on time and ready to learn. That’s a big part of our culture and he exemplifies that.”
Cornish explained that he envisions Kerry growing into a steady two-way contributor to the team for years to come, eventually becoming a player similar to team trainer Ryan Beattie, who spent four seasons with the MoJacks, appearing in more than 160 games as well as being a key contributor for the Cougar Cup champion team in 2011.
“Right now, Ben’s doing a good job as he continues to find his way with this team and at this level. The best comparison for his game would be Ryan Beattie, a hardworking and extremely coachable guy that could chip in at both ends of the ice, that comes ready to work with a positive attitude whenever he steps on the ice,” added Cornish.
Right now, Kerry is relishing the chance to be a junior hockey player in his hometown in front of his friends and family at Scugog Arena.
“I love being able to play here in Port Perry, coming out here to our fans cheering is the best feeling. Everyone is really excited and it’s a lot of fun to be able to play in your hometown.”
This season, with the MoJacks boasting a talented group of newcomers, including several of his teammates from last year in Oshawa, adding to a strong returning core; Kerry is hopeful that the MoJacks will be a contender in the race for the COJHL championship.
“There are a lot of great guys on this team, and we’ve got some real talent. Hopefully, we’ll be able to give our great fans the type of deep playoff run they’ve been wanting for the past few years.”
This past weekend, the MoJacks looked to get back on track following a pair of losses. After dropping a 2-1 decision to Uxbridge in a ‘Battle of North Durham’ last Sunday at home, the team hit the road on Tuesday, Oct. 20, venturing to the shores of the Ottanabee River for a match-up against the surging Lakefield Chiefs.
Goals from Andrew Pickering, Mitchell Gustavsen and Dan Harris kept the MoJacks in contention, but they would ultimately fall by a final score of 4-3.
Heading back home to Scugog Arena, the MoJacks hosted the first-place Clarington Eagles on Sunday, Oct. 25.
After 20 minutes of play, the Eagles held a 2-0 lead, with timely saves from goalie Blake Shaw keeping the MoJacks in contention.
The tide shifted in the second period, with a much more physical effort from the home side as they harassed the Eagles all over the ice.
With just under six minutes to play in the middle stanza, Connor MacEachern drew the MoJacks to within a goal with a sharp angle shot.
The third period saw the MoJacks come close to tying the game several times, but the comeback was not to be, as Clarington escaped with a 2-1 win.
Following the game, Cornish was pleased with the way the team had played, and is hopeful for continued improvement from his charges.
“This is about the process and a new landscape,” Cornish said. “If we can keep working hard and getting better every week, hopefully we can build on this performance and keep up the mentality we brought to the game today.”
- The MoJacks head to Keswick on Friday night (Oct. 30) looking to scare up two points against the Georgina Ice in a 7:30 p.m. tilt. On Sunday afternoon, it’s Round 3 of ‘the Battle of North Durham’ with the Uxbridge Bruins visiting Scugog Arena for a 2:25 p.m. matinee match-up.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
The opening rounds of the Battle of North Durham were waged over the weekend, with the Uxbridge Bruins and Port Perry MoJacks splitting the weekend home-and-home match-up between the local Junior ‘C’ hockey teams.
The MoJacks’ offence ran rampant over a depleted Bruins squad in Uxbridge on Friday, Oct. 16, scoring a 6-0 shutout. However, the Bruins battled back on Sunday afternoon in Port Perry, as they clawed their way to a 2-1 victory over the rival MoJacks.
Both sides came into the match-up on Friday night looking to get back to winning ways. The Bruins were coming off a 6-2 loss to the Clarington Eagles in Bowmanville on Thursday night, with Coby Gardner and Nick Sribny scoring for Uxbridge. Meanwhile, the MoJacks were coming off a 3-1 upset at the hands of the North Kawartha Knights at Scugog Arena on the previous Sunday afternoon.
There was no love lost between the North Durham rivals in their first meeting of the 2015-16 season, and just over six minutes into the action, Graham Lamers gave the MoJacks the lead when he tucked in a loose puck, with Lucas Clark picking up the assist. Six minutes later, Port Perry doubled their lead on a powerplay goal from Chris Polito, assisted by Ethan Ramsden and Konrad Piorkowski.
With just over five minutes to play in the opening period, Clark continued to rise to the occasion when playing in Uxbridge when he managed to fire a shot over the outstretched glove of goalie Branden Francey despite an Uxbridge defender being draped over him.
“Games against Uxbridge definitely have a different feel to them, because it’s such a great rivalry and so many of us have played with and against each other for so long. It’s always going to be tough between Port Perry and Uxbridge, no matter what the standings say, or how the last game went,” Clark told The Standard.
The MoJacks wasted little time adding to their lead in the second period, as Ramsden notched a powerplay goal just 24 seconds into the middle frame.
Blake Shaw remained sharp in goal for the MoJacks in the second period, turning aside some outstanding scoring chances for the Bruins.
The third period saw Jordan McCullough and Jeff St. Pierre round out the scoring for the MoJacks, as they rolled to a 6-0 victory.
Following the game, MoJacks bench boss Clair Cornish noted that he was pleased with the way his team was able to take advantage of their opportunity with Uxbridge shorthanded, with several of the Bruins key contributors including Marco Mastrangelo, Daryl Thomson, Ryan Miehm and Jordan Nesbitt sidelined with injuries.
“Once again, we came in with a line-up that has a lot of players in the first year of junior hockey and they handled themselves really well,” commented Cornish. “I’m pleased with our gameplay and the way our defenders were able to protect the front of our net.We didn’t quite face the true Uxbridge Bruins here tonight, and Sunday could be a totally different story.
Cornish’s words would prove to be prophetic on Sunday afternoon as the teams renewed hostilities at Scugog Arena to close out the home-and-home set.
Both sides would ride stellar goaltending to the late stages of the game, with a razor-thin margin for error as Uxbridge ultimately prevailed by a score of 2-1.
The Bruins took the lead just over seven minutes into the action, when Gardner poked in a rebound. However, the MoJacks would answer right back almost three minutes later when Clark scooped up a Kyle Schweda rebound and flicked the loose puck over the glove of Uxbridge goalie Jake Joosten to knot the game 1-1.
The score would remain deadlocked as Joosten and Shaw both turned aside several sensational scoring chances through the next 40-plus minutes of action.
As the clock ticked down in the final 10 minutes of the third period, the game seemed to grow more intense by the second, as both sides grew more desperate to score the critical next goal.
Fantastic effort by a trio of Uxbridge natives ultimately gave Uxbridge the go-ahead goal with just under four minutes to play. Chasing down a loose puck, Shane Smith won a battle with Kyle Schweda for control of the puck behind the MoJacks’ net and passed to a hard-charging Gardner only to have Shaw make a tremendous save. But, Dylan Pollard was able to swoop in and slam in the rebound as the visiting fans erupted in cheers, as Pollard’s first goal of the season stood up as the winner. The MoJacks were unable to slip anymore pucks past Joosten down the stretch, despite an extended six-on-three advantage in the final minute of the match.
“After giving up 12 goals in our last two games, we came in with an open mind and wiped the slate clean. We were short staffed again tonight, but I’m really proud of the way everyone stepped up to get this win,” Bruins head coach Geoff Hodgkinson told The Standard following the game. “With some key guys missing, it’s given all of our guys the chance to move into bigger roles and a great opportunity to see for us as a staff to see how they perform against higher calibre players.”
- The Bruins will be back in action at the Bear Den on Friday, Oct. 24, with the Lakefield Chiefs in town for a 7:45 p.m. tilt. On Tuesday, Oct. 27, the Bruins will host a rare mid-week home game, taking on the Georgina Ice at 8:10 p.m.
- It will be another tough test for the MoJacks as they host the league-leading Clarington Eagles at Scugog Arena on Sunday, Oct. 25 at 2:25 p.m., in the lone game of the weekend for Port Perry.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
With nearly a quarter of the 2015-16 COJHL season in the books, the Uxbridge Bruins find themselves in familiar territory atop the COJHL standings after posting three consecutive wins last week.
After opening the week with a 4-2 win over the Chiefs in Lakefield on Tuesday night behind goals from Wes Cowie, Daryl Thomson, Adam Bartholomew and Marco Mastrangelo, the Bruins were back on home ice on Friday, Oct. 9 to take on Little Britain.
The Bruins continued to roll, as they avenged their loss to the Merchants the previous Saturday night by shoplifting two points from a 7-5 victory.
Mitch Brown opened the scoring with a powerplay goal for the Merchants, but Cowie would reply to
deadlock the teams through 20 minutes of action.
Goals just 38 seconds apart from Aiden Renouf and Keegan Cairns gave the Merchants a 3-1 lead just before the midpoint of the second period. However, Mastrangelo would bring the Bruins back to within one just over a minute later, and Jordan Nesbitt swooped in from the blue line to tie the game, scoring a buzzer beater goal as the horn sounded to end the second.
The see-saw battle continued in the third, with a powerplay goal on a Terry Snoddon deflection putting the Merchants back on top just over three minutes into the action. However, just 23 seconds later, Thomson fired a booming shot just past Garrett Haden’s outstretched glove to once again knot the game.
Phil Koufis restored Little Britain’s lead just over two minutes later, only to have Alex Siblock reply with a powerplay goal for the Bruins.
Despite losing several players to injury over the course of the game, the Bruins’ penalty killers proved to be up to the task with Little Britain threatening later in the frame. A pair of goals from Shane Smith would ultimately seal a 7-5 victory for Uxbridge.
Following the game, Bruins head coach Geoff Hodgkinson praised the work of his team, as injuries forced some players into unfamiliar roles.
“We battled some adversity tonight, but never gave up and had some guys seize the opportunity to play bigger roles that might not ordinarily have been in that spot.”
On Sunday afternoon, the Bruins melted the Georgina Ice in Keswick by a score of 6-1. Siblock, Smith, Mastrangelo, Cowie, Aiden Reilly and Ryan Miehm all found the back of the net for the Bruins.
- The Bruins have busy weekend coming up as they head to Bowmanville at 7:50 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15 to face-off with the Clarington Eagles. On Friday night, the Port Perry MoJacks visit the Bear Den at 7:45 p.m., and the second half of ‘The Battle of North Durham’ gets underway at 2:25 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 18 in Port Perry.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
Reality is finally setting in for Port Perry’s Graeme Hossack after the Rochester Knighthawks selected him with the second overall choice in last week’s National Lacrosse League Entry Draft.
The 23-year-old was the top-rated defender in the draft after past exceptional seasons in Major Series Lacrosse. with the Brooklin Redmen during the past two summers.
“It finally started to sink in a few days later,” Hossack told The Standard. “I’ll think about how I looked up to the players in the NLL when I was younger and how much I wanted to be one when I was older and I’ll think about how lucky I am to be a part of it and catch myself smiling really wide.”
Although he was the highest rated defender coming into the draft, there was still uncertainty until he heard his name called.
“I wasn’t sure how high I would go, and I was definitely nervous going in,” explained Hossack. “It was a great relief when my name was called second, because it felt like forever.”
Hossack is currently wrapping up a degree in biology, with a minor in chemistry at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, where he has left an impressive legacy on the lacrosse field.
Last year, Hossack concluded his senior season by becoming the first player in school history to be selected as a First Team All-American. He also earned ECAC Specialist of the Year honors in 2014 and 2015. Hossack was named First Team All-ECAC three times (2013-15), and was named Team MVP in 2013 and 2014. He concluded his four-year college career with 33 goals, 18 assists, 51 points, 452 ground balls and 145 caused turnovers.
In addition, he has spent the past two summers with the Brooklin Redmen, which he says was an excellent apprenticeship for the competition he expects to face in January, when the NLL season gets underway. Previously, Hossack honed his skills in the junior ranks with the Whitby Warriors and Clarington Green Gaels after a minor lacrosse career that began in Whitby at age 5.
“I really feel like these past two summers with Brooklin have been the best way to prepare myself for the next level since a lot of guys play in both leagues” added Hossack. “The NLL is faster and there are much bigger crowds, but it’s as close as you can get.”
With many players in the NLL juggling careers away from lacrosse, Hossack anticipates a busy December shuttling between his studies at Lindenwood and Knighthawks training camp in Rochester will help to prepare him for the demands that come with a professional lacrosse career.
“There will be a few overlap weeks when I’m still in school and at training camp,” explained Hossack. “It will be a good lead-in to the routine that a lot of guys go through and being able to find the balance between school and staying on top of my game.”
The Knighthawks used their first four picks, and five of their six selections, to take defensemen in the 2015 Draft. Head coach Mike Hasen expects for Hossack to have an immediate impact with the team.
“First and foremost, he is going to fit in really well with these guys,” Hasen said in a press release. “He is a great player already. He is tough and plays his position well.”
When speaking with The Standard, Hossack noted that he was thrilled to be taken by a team with the prestige of the Knighthawks.
“I’m really excited to be picked by Rochester. They are a great team and have won three of the past four championships. It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to, being able to contribute to such a successful team. It’s a great atmosphere, and the arena is always packed with the most passionate fans in the league.”
He won’t have to look far for support, as his younger brother Matt is heading into his senior season of lacrosse at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
“That’s probably the most exciting part, is having both of us playing so close together. We’ve always tried to go to as many of each other’s games as we can, and it’s amazing that we’ll be able to hopefully see each other a lot this year.”
The oldest of three brothers, Hossack explained that his success has only been possible through the sacrifices made by his parents, Brad and Jocelyn.
“They played a huge role in all of our development as athletes. A lot of nights, they’d be driving everywhere trying to get three kids to three different practices, and wouldn’t even have time to eat. It’s their dedication to us following our dreams that has really driven me to succeed.”
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
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.