DARRYL KNIGHT Special to The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: A major shake-up led to a rejuvenated performance by the Uxbridge Bruins, on Sunday, Jan. 8th, as they downed the rival Port Perry MoJacks 3-2, at Scugog Arena in a ‘Battle Of North Durham’, to snap their recent seven-game losing streak.
The Bruins were busy on the trade front last week, shipping defence man and team captain Brady Baker and second-year forward Liam Timewell to the Clarington Eagles, in exchange for forward Cameron Moffitt and future considerations, on Wednesday.
Just two nights later, all three players were back on the ice in Uxbridge at the Bear Den, as the Eagles withstood a late push from the Bruins to skate to a 4-1 victory. Robert Freckelton had the lone Uxbridge goal, with assists credited to Aiden Reilly and Damien Heinle.
The determination displayed by the Bruins on Friday night carried over into Sunday’s match-up, as they skated to a scoreless draw through the opening 20 minutes. Both teams deployed dramatic defensive play in the first period. Bruins net minder Jake Joosten and his Port Perry counterpart Brett Chandler making several sensational saves to keep the score knotted at zero.
The MoJacks opened the scoring, just over five minutes into the action in the second period, on a Konrad Piorkowski goal, assisted by Adam Turner and Luke Wyatt. However, less than a minute later, Simon Feig scored, to help the Bruins claw their way back into the game, with Cristian Giorgio and Derek Dolan drawing assists on the play. Neither team could solve the other’s defence down the stretch, in the middle stanza.
The deadlocked score lead to inspired play to open the third period, with both sides trading scoring chances throughout the first half of the frame. Uxbridge took their first lead of the game almost eight-and-a-half minutes into the period, on a powerplay, when Wes Cowie took advantage of the extra space, and charged to the front of a crowd of bodies in front of the Port Perry net, to score on a rebound, with assists to Jason Simmonds and Alex Siblock.
Despite some excellent chances by the Bruins, to put their North Durham rivals down the stretch, the MoJacks refused to go quietly and with just 20 seconds left, and Chandler was summoned to the bench in favour of an extra attacker. Wyatt slipped in a loose puck through a scramble in front of the net to send the game to overtime.
As has been the case throughout the season, the three-on-three overtime period provided several stunning scoring opportunities for both teams and astounding saves by Chandler and Joosten. Finally, after more than four minutes of frantic action, Feig potted his second goal of the afternoon, with just under three minutes remaining, on a shot that eluded Chandler’s glove after a great feed from Simmonds.
Bruins head coach, Tim Evans, was elated after the game.
“We finally got it done. We’re finally starting to play like a team, and guys are stepping up and assuming roles and running with them.” Evans told The Standard.
According to Evans, the grit shown by the Bruins on Sunday afternoon started with the spirited late effort against the Eagles on Friday night, at the Bear Den.
“On Friday night you saw guys stepping up to the challenge and that continued today,” added Evans. “Our players see that there’s an opportunity to be a leader and they’re reaching for it. If we can continue to compete like we did today, we’ll be in good shape heading into this last part of the regular season and into the playoffs.”
The Bruins wished to thank Vince’s Market in Uxbridge for donating fruit and vegetable and sandwich platters to the team on Sunday, as part of the store’s ongoing 'Random Acts of Vince’s' promotion. Throughout the month of January, Vince’s is starting the year off on a giving note, and will be donating selected platters to local organizations that make North Durham such an outstanding place to live.
On Friday, Jan. 13th, the Little Britain Merchants will look to break a recent three-game losing streak, when they visit the Bear Den for a 7:45 p.m. match-up in Uxbridge against the Bruins. Over the weekend, the Merchants dropped their lone game by a score of 3-1 to the Lakefield Chiefs.
The MoJacks have a busy week ahead of them. Port Perry hosts a rare Wednesday night game, at Scugog Arena on Jan. 11th, with the Clarington Eagles in town for a 7:25 p.m. tilt. On Friday night, the MoJacks hit the road to tangle with the Georgina Ice in Keswick at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, the North Kawartha Knights will visit Scugog Arena for a 2:25 p.m. matinee match-up.
The Bruins round out a bust weekend, for the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s (PJHL) Orr Division, on Sunday, Jan. 15th, when they’ll look to melt the Georgina Ice in Sutton at 3:30 p.m. The Ice will be offering free admission for the game, courtesy of sponsor Stouffville Toyota.
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