The Uxbridge Bruins moved closer to clinching top spot in the COJHL last week, as they extended their recent winning streak to nine straight games heading into the final weekend of the regular season.
The Bruins’ week included a highly-anticipated home-and-home showdown with the Lakefield Chiefs, who came into the week grappling with Uxbridge for first place in the standings.
The two sides started the week squaring off in Lakefield on Tuesday, Jan. 27, with the Bruins skating to a 2-1 victory.
A powerplay goal from Jarett Smith just before the mid-point of the first period opened the scoring, with assists credited to Tyson Eastgate and Marco Mastrangelo. However, just over a minute later, the Chiefs would reply with a powerplay tally of their own to tie the game.
The two sides would trade chances, until Adam Bartolomew broke the tie with a powerplay goal with just over two minutes left in the third period.
On Friday, Jan. 30, the two sides renewed hostilities in Uxbridge, with the Bruins coming into the game two points behind the Chiefs for first place.
After a scoreless first period that featured several sensational saves from Uxbridge netminder Branden Francey and his Lakefield counterpart, Zach Wainman, the Chiefs took the lead almost five minutes into the second period. The Chiefs would control the play for large stretches of the second period, extending their lead to 2-0 late in the middle frame.
The Bruins would emerge from the dressing room with renewed determination as the third period opened, and less than 90 seconds into the action, Ryan Miehm netted his first goal as a Bruin when he battled in front of the net to tip in a point shot from Connor Evans.
With just under nine minutes remaining, Mastrangelo provided the equalizer when he charged to the net to bang in a rebound from Eastgate’s scoring chance.
The cheers had barely died down when Todd Winder brought the Uxbridge faithful out of their seats again just 36 seconds later, when he scooped up a rebound from Evans’ shot and flipped the puck high through a screen set in front of the net by Shane Smith to give the Bruins their first lead of the night.
Evans added a powerplay goal with just over five minutes to play, beating a Chiefs defender with a fantastic move in open ice to round out Uxbridge’s four-goal explosion in the third period, winning by a final score of 4-2, with Francey earning his league-leading 19th win of the campaign.
“It was an unbelievable shift in momentum,” Bruins Head Coach Geoff Hodgkinson told The Standard regarding Uxbridge’s third period comeback. “We felt something coming into the third period, and thought that if we could get a quick goal that we’d be in a good shape. We just had to get traffic in front, because Wainman had been so good through the first two periods.”
Hodgkinson noted the positive atmosphere that has enveloped his team in recent weeks, and helped to push the Bruins to their recent winning streak and move closer to securing the top seed for the upcoming playoffs.
“After two periods, even though we were down, no one was in our room with a negative attitude, they were all pumping each other up. And after the game, there was definitely an excited mood. It’s always great to be able to score four unanswered goals to come back and win an important game in front of your hometown fans.”
On Sunday, Feb. 1, the Bruins wrapped up a busy week with a 6-0 drubbing of the Georgina Ice in Keswick.
A pair of Mastrangelo goals gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play. Uxbridge continued to roll in the second period, with Winder netting a pair and Aiden Reilly chipping in a single. Miehm would wrap up the scoring with a third period marker. Alex Siblock, Shane Smith, Daryl Thomson and Carter Vahey all registered two assists in the game, with goaltender Jake Joosten picking up his ninth win of the season.
- Mastrangelo has registered at least one point during all nine games of Uxbridge’s recent winning streak. The 20-year-old Stouffville native leads the Bruins in scoring with 51 points (28 goals and 23 assists).
- It’s another busy week for the Bruins. On Wednesday, Feb. 4, they travel to Bowmanville for a 7:20 p.m. match-up with the Eagles. The Bruins host their final regular season home game at 7:45 p.m., on Friday, Feb. 6, with the Little Britain Merchants in town. The COJHL season comes to a close on Sunday, Feb. 8 in Port Perry at 2:25 p.m., with the Bruins facing off in a ‘Battle of North Durham’ against the MoJacks.