DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
The Uxbridge Bruins made the most of their first-ever trip to Apsley over the weekend, downing the North Kawartha Knights, following a one-goal loss at home to the Lakefield Chiefs.
The Bruins’ weekend began with a Friday night match-up against the defending provincial champion Chiefs in Uxbridge, the first meeting between the two teams since last season’s COJHL Cougar Cup Finals, which was won for the second straight year by Lakefield over Uxbridge.
Just over two minutes into the action, Alex Siblock gave the Bruins an early lead when he fought through traffic in front of the net to jam in a loose puck for the Uxbridge native’s first career goal in junior hockey, with assists on the play credited to Rob Freckelton and Aiden Reilly.
The Chiefs would, however, roar back with three unanswered goals to take a two-goal lead into the dressing room after 20 minutes of play.
Tyson Eastgate would cut the Chiefs’ lead to a single goal early in the second period, followed shortly afterwards by a powerplay goal from Zephyr’s Dylan Locke when he popped in a rebound, assisted by Korey Brand and Connor Evans.
Later in the second period, the two sides would trade goals just 16 seconds apart. After a shorthanded tally by the Chiefs, Jarett Smith slammed the puck into the net before Chiefs netminder Jonathan Thain could slide across the crease, deadlocking the match at 4-4 through 40 minutes.
There was a brisk pace to the action as the third period opened, with both sides hunting for the go-ahead goal.
With just over nine minutes played in the third, the Chiefs would net their second shorthanded goal of the night to regain the lead before added another goal just over two minutes later to open a 6-4 lead against the Bruins.
With just 12 seconds remaining, and goaltender Branden Francey summoned to the bench in favour of an extra attacker, Brand jammed the puck past Thain at the corner of the net to bring the Bruins back to within a goal, but that would be as close as Uxbridge would get as the Chiefs clung to a 6-5 win.
Getting a consistent performance from his charges was at the forefront of postgame comments from Bruins Head Coach Geoff Hodgkinson, who noted that the team will need to be better prepared in future contests should they hope to remain competitive with other teams in the league on a regular basis.
“Consistency is key everytime you step on the ice, and tonight our biggest thing was that we didn’t seem prepared to play,” Hodgkinson told The Standard. “That’s unacceptable in your own rink where your fans are paying to come and see you play. You can’t come unprepared or other teams in this league will capitalize.”
The team was looking for a quick turnaround the following night when they trekked to Apsley for their first-ever game against the North Kawartha Knights. However, Hodgkinson noted that the Bruins were not going to take the expansion team lightly heading into the Saturday night match-up.
“Our next game is a bit of an unknown for both sides, but hopefully we can go up there and perform. At this level, you can’t take anyone lightly.”
After the Knights took a one-goal lead in the first period, Eastgate and Shane Smith netted goals at opposite ends of the second period to give Uxbridge a 2-1 edge after 40 minutes of play at the North Kawartha Community Centre.
The Knights scored with just over five minutes left in the third period to knot the game 2-2, setting up a furious finish to the game.
With just over two-and-a-half minutes left in the game, Locke scored his second of the weekend to retake the lead for the Bruins, with Shane Smith adding an assist on the play.
And, just 31 seconds later, Jarett Smith added an insurance marker, assisted by Brand and Marco Mastrangelo to seal a 4-2 victory for the Bruins. Jake Joosten turned aside 19 of the 21 shots fired his way over the course of the game, earning the victory in his first start between the pipes for his hometown team.
- In other COJHL action from the weekend, Midget call-up Lennon Gowan picked up a 3-0 shutout as the Georgina Ice skated to their first victory of the season, downing the Clarington Eagles in Keswick on Friday night. The Eagles would avenge the loss back in Bowmanville on Sunday night, defeating the Ice by a score of 3-2. Meanwhile, the Little Britain Merchants skated to an 8-3 win over the Knights on Sunday night in Apsley.
- The Bruins will be looking to melt the Ice this weekend, as Georgina visits Uxrena on Friday, Oct. 10 for a 7:45 p.m. match-up. On Saturday, Oct. 11, the Bruins will hit the road for the first meeting of the season against Little Britain, with the action getting underway at 7:30 p.m.