DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
It was a winning weekend for the Uxbridge Bruins, as they maintained their grip on second place in the COJHL table with victories over the Port Perry MoJacks and Georgina Ice.
The Bruins were looking to rebound after a 3-2 loss in Lakefield on Tuesday night when their arch rivals, the Port Perry MoJacks paid a visit to the Bear Den on Friday, Nov. 20. Coming into the match-up, home ice had not been an advantage this season in ‘The Battle of North Durham’ with the visitors winning each of the three encounters between the clubs. As well, the Bruins were looking to avenge a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of the MoJacks in Uxbridge on Oct. 16.
The MoJacks opened the scoring four minutes into the match on a powerplay goal by Lucas Berkers. However, Uxbridge would quickly respond, with Adam Bartholomew firing home a long shot from just inside the blue line just 34 seconds later to knot the game 1-1. Marco Mastrangelo and Jordan Nesbitt assisted on the play.
With just under seven minutes to play in the first, the Bruins took the lead when Shane Smith fought through a blockade of MoJacks defenders in front of the net as he tipped in a blast from Nesbitt. Four minutes later, Smith struck again, when the MoJacks couldn’t contain a loose puck and Smith jammed it past Port Perry netminder Blake Shaw to give the Bruins a two-goal advantage.
At the other end of the ice, Bruins goalie Jake Joosten made several sensational stops with the MoJacks threatening on the powerplay in the final minute of the first period to preserve Uxbridge’s 3-1 lead.
The intensity picked up in the second period, with the next goal critical for both sides. After more than 15 minutes of back-and-forth play, Coby Gardner fired the puck off Shaw’s pad on a 2-on-1 right to a charging Alex Siblock, who buried the puck to boost the Bruins’ lead to 4-1.
Just over two minutes later, with time winding down in the middle stanza and the MoJacks enjoying a man-advantage, Liam Schweda made the most of his return to the MoJacks’ lineup when his shot from the point snaked through traffic to find the back of the net and cut Uxbridge’s lead to 4-2.
Early in the third period, the Bruins’ penalty killers stymied the MoJacks’ early two-man advantage to maintain a two-goal lead for the home side.
Just over six minutes into the final frame, Uxbridge made the most of an offensive zone face-off when Adam Bartholomew’s point shot was deflected into the net by Aiden Reilly to put the Bruins ahead by three.
Less than three minutes later, Mitchell Gustavsen drew the MoJacks back to within two goals, but that was as close as Port Perry would get, with Uxbridge skating to a 5-3 win.
Following the game, Bruins head coach Geoff Hodgkinson highlighted the great contributions of late from the team’s defensive corps.
“It felt like we got off to a bit of a slow start tonight, so when Bartholomew’s shot went in, it really helped our psyche to come back,” commented Hodgkinson. “Then later in the period, Tom Sheedy made a great play to take away a breakaway from Konrad Piorkowski. If he had gotten through, we might’ve been in trouble, and that’s the type of play Tom’s been making more and more this year. As a whole, I think we’ve got a great six-pack on defence that are making it really tough to play against us.”
After participating in the 55th Annual Uxbridge Santa Claus Parade on Saturday, the Bruins made the trek to Sutton on Sunday, Nov. 22, closing out the weekend with a tilt against the Georgina Ice.
Goaltender Branden Francey led the way for Uxbridge, picking up his second shutout of the season as the Bruins won by a final score of 5-0. Smith, Siblock, Mastrangelo, Gardner and Reilly scored for Uxbridge, with Thomson adding a pair of assists.
- The Bruins were part of the team of instructors at the Jumpstart Games in Uxbridge on Friday, with more than 200 local kids taking part in a great day of physical activity. The event also featured appearances by Gary Roberts and Toronto Maple Leafs mascot Carlton the Bear.
- This weekend, the Bruins will be looking to shoplift four points from the Little Britain Merchants as they tangle in a home-and-home encounter. The two sides meet at the Bear Den on Friday, Dec. 4 at 7:45 p.m., before renewing hostilities the following night at 7:30 p.m. in Little Britain.
- Fans can drop off new, unwrapped toys at all Bruins home games leading up to Christmas as part of the Uxbridge Community Toy Drive.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
The Uxbirdge Bruins and Port Perry MoJacks will both enter Friday night’s ‘Battle of North Durham’ riding a wave of positive momentum after resilient performances from both clubs over the weekend.
The Bruins battled back against Clarington to salvage a single point in a 5-4 overtime loss in Bowmanville on Thursday, Nov. 12. The following night, the Bruins mauled the North Kawartha Knights, skating to a 7-1 win at the Bear Den.
The MoJacks saw their lead evaporate twice in Little Britain on Saturday, Nov. 14. Returning home to Scugog Arena for a rematch with the Merchants on Sunday afternoon, the MoJacks snapped their recent six-game winless drought at home with a 5-4 overtime win.
In their match-up against the Eagles on Thursday night, the Bruins saw a 3-2 lead slip away in the third period before a late goal from Nick Sribny (his second of the night) forced overtime, before Clarington escaped with a 5-4 win. Daryl Thomson and Brady Baker also scored for Uxbridge, as the Bruins put forth a tremendous effort after ejections to Baker, Coby Gardner and Tom Sheedy left the team short staffed.
The Bruins were able to shake off the result the next night back at home in Uxbridge, as they dominated the North Kawartha Knights en route to a 7-1 win. Captain Marco Mastrangelo led the way with three goals and two assists, with Daryl Thomson adding a goal and two helpers. Adam Bartholomew, Shane Smith and Jordan Nesbitt rounded out the Uxbridge goal scorers.
“It was just one of those nights where everything seemed to be going my way,” Mastrangelo told The Standard. “Having Thomson back has given us a real boost, and we have great chemistry playing together.”
On Sunday afternoon, the MoJacks were able to survive a late push by Little Britain to snap out of a six-game winless streak at home. Outstanding performances from some of their top offensive threats led to a Port Perry win in the second half of a weekend home-and-home affair with the Merchants.
Konrad Piorkowski netted the game-winner on a breakaway just over two minutes into overtime, with Ethan Ramsden, Lucas Berkers, Todd McNair and Lucas Clark scoring during regulation play.
“This was a gritty effort and I was pleased to see us battle through some adversity. We needed a win at home and we have to find a way to win one-goal games to be successful in this league,” MoJacks head coach Clair Cornish told The Standard.
- On Saturday night, MoJacks forward Kyle Schweda became just the 44th player in the past 30 years to suit up for 100 regular season games for the team. Through 18 games this season, the 21-year-old Port Perry native has chipped in with 15 points (4 goals and 11 assists).
“In his time since moving up from the Port Perry Predators, Kyle has become one of the best penalty killers in the league. We rely on his leadership on and off the ice,” commented Cornish.
- The MoJacks will take part in the annual Predator Day celebrations at Scugog Arena on Saturday, Nov. 21, hosting the Georgina Ice at 2:25 p.m. Any Port Perry Minor Hockey Player wearing their jersey will get into the game free of charge if accompanied by an adult.
- Chris Polito, Graham Lamers and Berkers scored for the MoJacks in Little Britain.
- The Bruins trek to Keswick on Sunday, Nov. 22, for a 3:30 p.m. match-up against the Ice.
- Through Dec. 18, the Bruins will be collecting toys at all home games for the Uxbridge Toy Drive.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
After being sidelined with an upper-body injury for nearly a month, Daryl Thomson made the most of his return to the Uxbridge Bruins’ lineup on Friday, Nov. 6, scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 shutout of the Lakefield Chiefs.
Thomson’s goal came on the powerplay early in the third period, when he took advantage of the extra time and space, and fired a hard shot past the outstretched glove of Lakefield goalie Michael Christie. Jordan Nesbitt added the lone assist on the play.
“The first half of the game was a little slow, being off the ice had taken a bit of a toll on my timing. And, I was probably trying to do too much at first,” Thomson, one of four overage players on the Bruins told The Standard. “Once I was able to settle down a bit, we got back to playing Uxbridge hockey and worked hard on defence to pick up these two points.”
Fellow overager Branden Francey made 34 saves to pick up his first shutout of the season.
Following the game, Francey noted that the team seems to have rebounded from a recent string of tough results. On Friday night, the Bruins played tremendous team defence, with their penalty killers shutting down all five of Lakefield’s powerplay opportunities.
“It’s been frustrating, but you have to fight through those times and practice how you play. We’ve fought through some adversity and I feel like we’re in a great position to fight for first place the rest of the way,” Francey explained.
Scoring chances were at a premium on Friday night, with the Bruins and Chiefs displaying dedicated defensive zone coverage throughout the game. Head Coach Geoff Hodgkinson noted that the team has been showing more pride in their defensive play as of late, and expressed his pleasure with the team’s recent results.
“The players are rightfully proud of the way they’ve defended our zone these past four games, and if we can keep up this kind of hard work, it’ll make life easier for our goalies and eventually, lead to more chances on offence,” noted Hodgkinson.
-The Bruins will trek to Bowmanville on Thursday, Nov. 12, for a 7:50 p.m. match-up against the league-leading Clarington Eagles. On Friday night, the North Kawartha Knights visit the Bear Den for a 7:45p.m. tilt.
DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
Dean Van Camp will be among the youngest athletes to ever be enshrined in the Scugog Sports Hall of Fame when the 2015 class takes to the stage for this year’s induction ceremony at the Scugog Community Centre on Thursday, Nov. 12.
The 32-year-old Port Perry native traveled the world as a member of Canada’s national rugby team before injuries forced him into retirement in 2009. He honed his skills on the pitch at Port Perry High School, although he admits that he had a lot to learn when he began playing in Grade 9.
“Growing up, I was mainly involved in hockey, soccer and track and field. I was only introduced to rugby in 1997 when I was in Grade 9. It’s funny now, but I knew so little about the game at first. When we had our first tournament at the Scugog Soccer Fields, I didn’t even know enough to touch the ball to the ground after scoring a try.”
He would catch on quickly and was a natural fit through his mix of size and speed. In Grade 10, Van Camp was a key contributor for the Rebels team that captured the lone OFSAA rugby championship in school history, despite being the youngest player at the provincial championships at 15-years-old.
“I wasn’t thinking long term at first and had no idea about the adventures the game would lead me to. But, I was big, fast and could run over guys. From the start, rugby was a great fit for me.”
For former Port Perry High School athletic director Bryan Armstrong, Van Camp’s place in the hierarchy of former Rebel rugby players is undisputed.
“He’s definitely number one. He is the one that really put our school on the map,” Armstrong told The Standard. “He was the best player in Grade 10 when we won OFSAA, and was the youngest player at the tournament. We built our whole offence around his skill set. He was unstoppable with his size and speed.”
Armstrong would play a pivotal role in Van Camp’s rise through the provincial ranks, starting when he was 15. By age 17, Van Camp had attracted national attention and began playing with Canada’s Under-19 team.
Opposing players also took note of the way Van Camp could dominate games while at Port Perry H.S.
“It was hard to believe he was in high school. He was more like a machine out there that had been programmed to play rugby. You couldn’t stop him, you’d just hope to contain him,” recalled Mike Ashenhurst, a former Uxbridge S.S. Tigers player.
After graduating, Van Camp studied at the University of Western Ontario, and help to lead the Mustangs to a provincial title in 2004 when he scored the game-winning try.
It was at Western that Van Camp would earn his first call to join the Canadian Senior team.
“In my third year, I got the call for my first cap with the National Sevens team for a tournament in South Africa. But, I had to scramble because it fell in the middle of exams,” recalled Van Camp. “It was that experience that really motivated me with the national program.”
In an effort to maximize his training, Van Camp left Port Perry in 2005 to move to Victoria, B.C., home base for the national rugby program.
“To really be in the mix, I had to move to Victoria and train with the team year-round. I was able to finish my degree out there, and that’s when things really started to happen on the pitch.”
Over the next four years, Van Camp would earn several caps with the national team, and travelled around the globe, squaring off against the world’s rugby powerhouses over the course of his career with the national team.
In his first international game with the senior rugby union team, Van Camp scored the winning try to give Canada a tournament championship over the hosts in Japan.
“There were so many unbelievable moments. From playing the All Blacks in New Zealand to playing in front of 70,000 screaming fans at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. I never imagined rugby would lead me where it did, but it was an incredible experience. The crowd in Wales was so loud, we couldn’t hear each other 10 feet away on the pitch. The passion of rugby fans around the world is unbelievable.”
As well, Van Camp noted that he is very proud of his undefeated record in games played against the United States across all competitions.
In addition to rugby, Van Camp was also a dominant player in minor hockey with the Port Perry Predators, and recalled his greatest memory, a playoff battle with the Uxbridge Stars in his last year of Midget. The original five game series stretched to eight, with both teams issuing protests, culminating in a hard fought win for Port Perry over their North Durham rivals.
“I was really focused on rugby that year, since it was my first year with the national Under-19s, and I didn’t play the first half of the season,” Van Camp said. “But I couldn’t stay away, since it was our last year and we’d all grown up together. That series with Uxbridge was a great battle that still sticks in a lot of people’s minds. As tough as it was on the ice, the battles were just as fierce in the stands.”
In 2014, Van Camp and his wife Sarah left Victoria to return home to Port Perry, where he works alongside his father Bill and brother Joel at the family business, Van Camp Contracting. As well, Dean and Sarah are expecting their first child next month.
“I’m so happy to be back home and being able to raise my family here. All the time I spent in B.C., it never felt like it does in Port Perry. Working with my family is great, we’ve been in business for 59 years now, and I’m proud to be a part of that legacy.
I had no idea I’d been going into the Hall of Fame, and it’s a testament to all of the great support this town has given me over the years.”