Special to The Standard
The Uxbridge Bruins have their backs against the wall in the PJHL Eastern Conference Finals, as of The Standard’s press time, trailing the Napanee Raiders three-games-to-none.
After winning their first Cougar Cup Orr Division championship in a decade, the Bruins advanced to the provincial quarterfinals, where the Raiders awaited, posing a tough challenge, after rolling to the Tod Division title.
Despite winning the coin toss for home ice, the Bruins opted to begin the series on the road, visiting Napanee for Game 1, on Tuesday, March 19th.
The Raiders dominated much of Game 1, out-shooting the Bruins by a margin of 44-19. However, the Bruins still found themselves within striking distance, with less than four minutes to play, when Aiden Reilly scored a power play goal, to cut Napanee’s lead in half. But then, the Bruins could not slip another past the Napanee netminder, as the Raiders added an empty net, powerplay goal with 10 seconds to play, to seal a 3-1 victory.
Looking for a boost, the Bruins returned to the Bear Den on Friday night, with more than 600 fans hoping to roar the home side to victory.
The Bruins looked poised to take an early lead, but saw their powerplay unable to convert. The Raiders would turn the tables, and scored a pair of first period goals.
Just over a minute into the second period, Simon Feig scored, to bring the Bruins to within one. Later in the frame, Justin Bennett was awarded a penalty shot, but saw his attempt stopped, with the Raiders scoring shortly afterwards to push their advantage to 3-1.
An early 3rd period goal by Napanee extended the lead to 4-1, before the Bruins caught a break with an own goal surrendered by Napanee, and credited as a powerplay goal for Reilly, as the Bruins cut the lead to 4-2. However, that would be as close as Uxbridge could manage, with the Raiders adding another late score, to seal a 5-2 victory in Game 2.
On Sunday, March 24th, the Bruins once again headed east to Napanee, looking to claw their way back into the series.
A powerplay goal for the Raiders was the lone goal of the first period. Early in the second period, Toby Cooper netted a powerplay goal, to knot the game 1-1. However, shortly afterwards, the Raiders would reclaim the advantage, netting a pair around the midpoint of the second period.
With time ticking down in the middle frame, Cole Bremner scored, to bring the Bruins back to within a goal. But, that would be as close as Uxbridge would get, as the Raiders added another goal in the third period, to skate to a 4-2 victory. Goaltender Ryan McConkey continued his stellar play, making 47 saves in net for the Bruins.
The Bruins will look to extend the series when Game 4 hits the Bear Den, on Wednesday evening, after The Standard’s press deadline. If Game 5 is needed, it will be played in Uxbridge, on Friday night, at 7:45 p.m. On Sunday night, Game 6 is slated for Napanee, at 7:30, and a climactic Game 7, if needed, will be played in Uxbridge, on Monday, April 1st.
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