MARLO STANFIELD Special to The Standard
The new year opened for the Uxbridge Bruins over the weekend, with the team clawing its way to a pair of victories, to remain in the hunt for top spot in the PJHL Orr Division standings.
The Bruins maintained their third place position in the standings, by melting the Georgina Ice 6-2, at the Bear Den, on Friday, January 4th, and shutting down the Little Britain Merchants, by a score of 6-4, on the road on Saturday evening.
In their first game of 2019, on Friday night, the Bruins were facing off against a feisty Ice team who are clinging to faint playoff hopes, and battled the Bruins fiercely throughout a highly contested first period, seeing the action tied 2-2 after 20 minutes. Toby Cooper drew the game level, after Georgina opened the scoring, and Tom Sheedy gave the Bruins a brief advantage with a powerplay goal.
Uxbridge began to pull away in the second period, as they doubled their lead to 4-2, on goals by Justin Bennett and Stefan Palatsidis.
In the third period, the Bruins put an exclamation point on the game, with goals by Finn Reeves and Daniel Giorgio, pushing Uxbridge to a 6-2 win.
The following night, one of the great rivalries in the PJHL resumed, when the Bruins made the trek to the ‘Sports Capital of the Kawarthas,’ looking to avenge a dramatic 4-3 loss to Little Britain, at the Bear Den just before the holiday break.
Justin Bennett continued his strong play of late, as the recently named Orr Division Player of the Month opened the scoring, just over eight minutes into the action, when he buried a brilliant pass from Michael Rennie.
However, the Merchants battled right back, scoring twice, including a shorthanded marker, to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
Just over a minute into the second period, the Merchants extended their lead to 3-1, but Palatsidis and Robert Freckelton would claw their Bruins back to level, with a pair of goals just 42 seconds apart, near the midpoint of the second period. However, a powerplay goal for Little Britain, in the latter half of the middle frame, gave the home side a 4-3 lead heading into the third period.
The Bruins would roar back in dramatic fashion in the third period though, as Palatsidis once again evened the score, with a power play goal, assisted by Bennett, just over seven minutes into the third period. With time ticking down, and just over 2 minutes remaining, Bennett scored, to give Uxbridge their first lead of the evening. And, with less than a minute left in regulation, and the Merchants swarming in the offensive zone, Palatsidis slid the puck into an empty net for his hat trick-clinching goal, sealing a 6-4 Uxbridge victory.
Palatsidis continued his strong play of late, with Saturday night’s performance. The power forward from Pickering now has eight points over his past four games, and has been a thorn in the side of defences across the division, since joining the Bruins in the off-season, from the Junior ‘A’ Lindsay Muskies.
“Steph is always on the scoresheet, and has the skill, size and passion to control hockey games,” commented Bruins assistant coach Trevor Cox. “That’s exactly what he has been doing as of late, and hopefully he can continue on this roll that he’s on.”
The Bruins will look to close the gap in the standings over the weekend. The Bruins host the first place Lakefield Chiefs at the Bear Den, on Friday, January 11th, at 7:45 p.m.
On Saturday evening, the Bruins trek to Apsley, for a match-up with the second place North Kawartha Knights.
Uxbridge looked to add to the depth of its defensive corps over the holiday break, with the addition of Jackson Lakey, who has spent time with the Pickering Panthers, and most recently the Toronto Colts.
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