DARRYL KNIGHT Special to The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: An eventful weekend in the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s Orr Division semifinals has seen the Uxbridge Bruins and Port Perry MoJacks seize matching two-games-to-one leads, against Lakefield and Clarington, respectively.
The MoJacks and Eagles have traded wins through the opening three games of the series, a rematch of last season’s Cougar Cup championship, with the home side winning each time. Meanwhile, the Bruins have roared back, following a 7-0 loss in Lakefield, to open the series, winning 4-2 on Friday night at the Bear Den, and 4-1 on Sunday night back in Lakefield.
Returning home, after suffering a blowout loss in Game 1, the Bruins fell behind 2-0, early in the game on Friday night, with the Chiefs scoring their goals just 11 seconds apart. However, buoyed by a crowd of nearly 400 delirious fans, the Bruins were able to claw their way back and tie the game, before the end of the first period, on goals from Aiden Reilly and Cameron Moffitt.
Both sides had great chances to score, but excellent goaltending, particularly from Uxbridge’s Ryan McConkney, helped to keep the score deadlocked through 40 minutes.
Opportunity struck for Uxbridge, just over three minutes into the third period, when Rob Freckelton and Moffitt combined on a sensational scoring chance that was denied by Lakefield’s Michael Christie. However, Jackson Evans was able to swoop in and slip a backhand shot into the open cage, to give Uxbridge their first lead of the series.
Then, with less than eight minutes to play, Moffitt struck again, when he beat a Lakefield defender to a loose puck and stormed in on goal, beating Christie with a perfectly-placed shot, to give the Bruins some much-needed breathing room, and seal a 4-2 win to tie the series at one-game-apiece.
On Sunday night, the two sides resumed hostilities in Lakefield, with the Bruins once again roaring back from an early deficit, as they scored four unanswered goals to take a 4-1 win, in the tight confines of the Lakefield-Smith Community Centre.
With Lakefield leading 1-0, Josh Burkholder scored in the last minute of the first period to knot the game. The Bruins worked quickly to take a 3-1 lead in the second period, with Derek Dolan scoring a powerplay goal just over three minutes into the frame, assisted by Cristian Giorgio. Then, less than two minutes later, Simon Feig struck again for Uxbridge, with assists credited to Damien Heinle and Ryan Dunlop. Dolan’s second goal of the evening, almost four minutes into the third period, provided some insurance for the Bruins, as they kept the Lakefield attack at bay and took the lead in the series, handing the Orr Division’s regular season champs their first back-to-back losses of the season in the process.
There was no love lost between the Eagles and MoJacks, as they began their semifinal series in Port Perry on Wednesday evening, with the MoJacks scoring a 4-2 victory. Cole Murray, Konrad Piorkowski, Luke Wyatt and Dan Harris scored for Port Perry.
The following night, the Eagles skated to a 4-3 win in Bowmanville, with Mitch Gustavsen, Brady Martin and Harris scoring for the MoJacks.
The series lived up to its billing, as the teams once again engaged in a tight, back-and-forth battle on Sunday afternoon in Port Perry, with the MoJacks edging the Eagles for a 4-3 victory, behind a pair of goals by Gustavsen and singles from Graham Lamers and Martin.
Both series continued earlier this week, after The Standard’s press deadline. The MoJacks and Eagles were back on the ice on Wednesday night, in Port Perry for Game 5. If needed, Game 6 will be played Thursday evening in Bowmanville, and Game 7 is slated for a 2:25 p.m. start, on Sunday, March 5th at Scugog Arena.
The Bruins and Chiefs, if needed, will tangle in Game 6 on Friday night at the Bear Den. Should it go to a Game 7, it will be contested in Lakefield on Sunday, March 5th, the action getting underway at 1:30 p.m.
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