Special to The Standard
UXBRIDGE: The Uxbridge Bruins are moving on to the Cougar Cup Orr Division championship for the first time since 2015, following a four-game sweep of the rival Port Perry MoJacks.
It took overtime in Game 4, on Sunday, February 24th, but Daniel Giorgio provided the series-clinching goal, just over five minutes into the extra frame, to seal a dramatic 6-5 victory for Uxbridge.
After the Bruins opened the series, with a 6-1 thumping of the MoJacks, on Family Day, the series resumed on Thursday, February 21st night in Port Perry. The midweek match-up saw the Bruins rally from a 2-1 deficit in the first period, to score an 8-3 victory.
Justin Bennett scored twice for Uxbridge, with Giorgio, Matthew Hunter, Finn Reeves, Robert Freckelton, Simon Feig and Josh Cammalleri chipping in with singles.
On Friday evening, February 22nd, the action shifted back to the Bear Den for Game 3, with the Bruins looking to take a commanding lead in the best-of-seven series.
Uxbridge opened the scoring, with just over five minutes to play in the first period, when Cole Bremner charged into the slot and pounded a shot past the Port Perry goalie. However, MoJacks captain Ben Sheremeta evened the score with a powerplay goal, late in the frame.
The Bruins got some breathing room in the second period, after Bennett scored to restore the Bruins’ lead. The third period saw Feig and Toby Cooper round out the scoring, and lift Uxbridge to a 4-1 win.
Bruins goalie Ryan McConkey was sensational late in the game, turning aside Port Perry’s Carter Thornton on a penalty shot.
It was do-or-die for the MoJacks, on Sunday afternoon, as the action shifted back to Scugog Arena.
Just as they’d done in Game 2, the MoJacks took a 2-1 lead in the first period, before Feig scored with just 28 seconds remaining, to tie the game through 20 minutes of play.
The teams battled through a back-and-forth second period, that saw the MoJacks regain the lead early, before a powerplay goal by Robert Freckelton evened the score.
The Bruins seized their first lead of the afternoon, when Feig scored just 56 seconds into the third period, but the MoJacks would battle back to knot the game. Near the midpoint of the third, Jackson Savery restored Uxbridge’s advantage, only for Noah Bray to tie the game for the MoJacks, with just over 8 minutes remaining in regulation.
Both goalies, McConkey and Port Perry’s Connor Latchford, were sensational in the late stages of the game, with both making acrobatic saves to keep the game tied and force an overtime period.
Giorgio fought through heavy traffic in front of the net, to tip in a shot by Adam Turner, just over 5 minutes into overtime, to wrap up a wild, back-and-forth Game 4; the latest chapter in the ever-changing Battle of North Durham.
Following the game, Bruins head coach Andrew Langlands praised the MoJacks for the tenacity, and acknowledged his team had found another level to their game in the series, and will hopefully continue to do so, over a long playoff run.
“Even though they were short-staffed today, we knew that Port Perry was going to give us all that they had,” Langlands told The Standard. “They definitely delivered and really pushed us all game. But, our team showed their depth; work ethic and structure all played into this series. We’re going to build on this and buckle down, while we wait for the next series to start, and keep doing what we’ve been doing with our preparation and practice, before we have to play North Kawartha or Lakefield.”
The Cougar Cup series won’t begin any earlier than Monday, March 4th, with the Bruins set to take on the winner of the series between North Kawartha and Lakefield. As of press time, the Knights hold a 3-1 lead in the series.
The Bruins are investigating a fan bus, to travel to games in Apsley. For more information, please check the team’s website or social media accounts.
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