DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
The Uxbirdge Bruins posted a pair of weekend wins to move into second place in the COJHL standings, as the league moves into its final month of the regular season.
On Friday, Jan. 9, the Bruins played host to the North Kawartha Knights. looking to make it back-to-back wins over the expansion entry to the league, after posting a 3-1 win in Apsley the previous Saturday.
Tyson Eastgate opened the scoring with a powerplay goal almost eight minutes into the action. However, just 35 seconds later, the Knights struck back to equalize the game 1-1. Following the goal, Bruins netminder Jake Joosten withdrew from the game due to illness, as Branden Francey took over between the pipes.
Rob Freckelton restored Uxbridge’s lead with his sixth goal of the season with just over three minutes to play in the first period.
The Bruins’ offence continued to roll in the second period, as they opened a 4-1 lead on the Knights behind goals from Eastgate and Patrick Bolahood.
Although North Kawartha would sneak one puck past Francey in the third period, Uxbridge continued to dominate, with Connor Evans, Adam Bartholomew, Alex Williamson and Carter Vahey all lighting the lamp as Uxbridge rolled to an 8-2 victory.
The Bruins looked to keep the momentum going the following night as they travelled to Little Britain to square off against the Merchants.
Francey was busy throughout the first 20 minutes, stopping all 16 shots fired his way by the Merchants. Almost three minutes into the second period, Marco Mastrangelo opened the scoring, with Eastgate chipping in the lone assist.
However, less than two minutes later, Kurtis Moore netted the equalizer, scoring a shorthanded goal, assisted by Terry Snoddon.
Earlier in the day, the Bruins bolstered their defensive corps by reacquiring ‘Magic’ Mike Spataro, who had spent the past two seasons with the Tier II Junior ‘A’ Lindsay Muskies. The Pickering native and former captain of the Muskies made an immediate impact, as he scored the go-ahead goal with just over five minutes to play in the second period. Just 27 seconds later, Dylan Locke netted an unassisted tally to swell Uxbridge’s lead to 3-1 after 40 minutes of play.
The Merchants refused to have two points shoplifted from them quietly, and pressured the Bruins throughout the third period, and with just over three minutes to play, former Bruin and Uxbridge resident Mackenzie Smith scored to bring Little Britain to within a goal. However, that would be as close as the home side would get, as Locke fired his second of the evening into an empty net to seal a 4-2 victory, with Eastgate adding his third assist of the match.
With a daunting stretch ahead of them in the coming weeks with several games against the top sides in the COJHL, Bruins bench boss Geoff Hodgkinson is confident his team can continue their recent run of success as they challenge for a high ranking in the playoffs.
“I feel like, over our past 10 games that we’ve been hitting what we have been striving for since day one. With 10 games left, I think it’ll continue to show,” Hodgkinson told The Standard. “It comes down to being prepared mentally and physically to challenge the top teams, and if we can dig deep and win a majority of our games down the stretch, there’s no reason we can’t be in the fight for first place.”
- In addition to Spataro, the Bruins also added forward Ryan Miehm from North Kawartha ahead of the Jan. 10 trade deadline in the COJHL. Through 26 games with the Knights, the 17-year-old Courtice product tallied two goals and five assists.
“With the end of the season coming up, we wanted to make a move to add some depth and give us another option up front. Ryan’s skillful and smart with the puck and should be able to help us right away,” Hodgkinson said.
- This weekend, the Clarington Eagles soar into Uxbridge for a 7:45 p.m. match-up on Friday, Jan. 16.
- On Sunday, Jan. 18, the Bruins trek east on Reach St. for the latest ‘Battle of North Durham’ as they take on the Port Perry MoJacks at Scugog Arena, starting at 2:25 p.m.
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