Special to The Standard
UXBRIDGE: An eventful week for the Uxbridge Bruins, that saw that the departure of longtime General Manager Ron Archibald ended on a positive note, as they skated to a 3-3 tie against the Lakefield Chiefs, at the Bear Den on Friday night.
Following several weeks of speculation, the team announced, on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 17th, Archibald had decided to step away from his role as General Manager, a position he has held with his hometown club for 16 of the past 20 seasons, citing personal reasons.
At the Bear Den on Friday night, with Glenn Waters and Kevin Vander Geest sharing interim GM duties, the team took to the ice, looking to shake a recent slide that has seen the squad drop six of their past seven games. However, the opposition was daunting with the Lakefield Chiefs in town, sporting an overall record of 14 wins and just three losses in the season.
The first ten minutes of the game was a stretch the Bruins would like to forget, as an early parade to the penalty box put the team down 2-0, less than seven minutes into the action. However, the pendulum would swing the other way later in the frame, with the Chiefs whistled for five straight penalties. The stretch led to a Bruins power play goal to draw the home side to within one, with just under five minutes to play in the opening stanza, when Ryan Dunlop blasted a shot through heavy traffic in front, assisted by Joseph Corrao and Cristian Giorgio.
The officials continued to impose their will over the game in the second period, as both sides struggled to find a groove with limited five-on-five opportunities, throughout the middle frame. The teams would trade goals in the second, when Derek Dolan netted a shorthanded marker, assisted by Brady Baker and Kyle Spataro, near the midpoint of the period, to tie the game, before a power play goal with just over five minutes to play, restored a one-goal lead for Lakefield, heading into the third period.
Buoyed by several sensational saves from goaltender Ryan McConkey, the Bruins clawed their way back into the game in the third period, tying the game on the power play almost seven minutes into the action, when Aiden Reilly knocked down a clearing attempt and fired a shot from the slot, that found its way just inside the post, to knot the match 3-3.
McConkey continued his brilliant play throughout a frantic finish to the action, including a dazzling save on an Eric Oosting breakaway, with just over five minutes to play, to force the game to overtime.
The seven-minute, three-on-three overtime session provided several near-misses for both sides, with McConkey continuing to defy the laws of physics in net for the Bruins, as a game which neither side deserved to lose ended justly in a 3-3 tie, the first tie this season in the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s Orr Division and the first regular season tie between Uxbridge and Lakefield since Jan. 16, 2009, after several seasons of shootouts to settle tied regular season games, which has been abandoned this year.
Bruins head coach, Tim Evans, was elated with the result, praising McConkey’s performance, and noting the team will be looking to move forward with this positive result in the second half of the season, following a rocky start to the campaign.
“We’ve had a lot of changes that have happened, and put us a little behind the eight ball, to start the season,” Evans explained to The Standard. “I’m going to lose my voice, and we’ve been struggling to play with patience and buy into our system. But, we’re in a complete rebuilding mode, and our heart is set on rebuilding this club with character and local guys. We had an unbelievable performance from (McConkey) tonight, and hopefully it’s something we can now build on.”
- The Bruins welcomed back defenceman Jason Simmonds for Friday night’s game. The Uxbridge Stars' product suited up for the team in 2014-15. He brings a poised, veteran presence to the blueline, and has seen frequent shifts down the stretch against Lakefield, helping to keep the potent Chiefs’ offence at bay.
- The Bruins are back in action on Thursday, Nov. 24th, when they trek to Bowmanville for a 7:20 p.m. showdown against the Clarington Eagles, the first meeting between the two sides since Uxbridge traded Patrick Bolahood to the Eagles earlier this month, in exchange for future considerations.
- On Friday night, the Bruins are back at the Bear Den, at 7:45 p.m., when they tangle with the always-tough Little Britain Merchants.
- The Bruins are once again proudly participating in the Uxbridge Toy Drive, and local fans are invited to bring new, unwrapped toys to any home game up to Dec. 23rd. On Dec. 2nd, the team will be hosting its annual Teddy Bear Toss, in support of the Toy Drive.