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.