The Uxbridge Bruins survived a scare from Little Britain at the Bear Den on Friday night, downing the Merchants 5-4 to pick up their third straight win.
The two sides share a rivalry that dates back almost 40 years, and games between the Merchants and Bruins are typically emotionally-charged, physical affairs. This match-up was no different, with Wes Cowie and Coby Gardner delivering several jarring hits in the early stages of the contest, with Kenzie Smith replying for Little Britain.
Nick Sribny’s fifth goal of the season put the Bruins ahead just over seven minutes into the action. And, with time winding down in the first period, Marco Mastrangelo doubled the Bruins lead to 2-0 with his 14th goal of the campaign.
However, despite the positive momentum heading into the intermission, the Merchants wasted little time scoring in the second, with Reed Westington scoring just over two minutes into the second period and Nate ‘Bubba’ Watson netting the equalizer just over six minutes later.
However, the Bruins would claw their way back with Daryl Thomson scoring off an offensive zone face-off just past the mid-point of the second, and Mastrangelo netting a late powerplay goal to restore a two-goal cushion for the home side heading into the third period.
The teams continued their punishing physical play in the third period, with great scoring chances turned aside early in the frame.
However, just over six minutes into the frame, Merchants captain Terry Snoddon showcased why he is the reigning Provincial Junior ‘C’ player of the year when he twisted and turned past four Bruins defenders before scoring a backhanded goal and bringing the Shopkeepers to within one.
The intense atmosphere continued in the final ten minutes, finally boiling over after Michael Cox tied the game with a powerplay goal following a wild scramble in front of the Uxbridge goal with just under eight minutes to play. The ensuing scrum would result in ejections for Bruins defencemen Jordan Nesbitt and Adam Bartholomew and Merchants forward Keegan Cairns, an Uxbridge native and former Bruin.
With the defence depleted, Bruins goalie Branden Francey made several sensational saves down the stretch to keep the Merchants offence stalled.
With less than two minutes remaining, Thomson found Shane Smith streaking to the net, and the veteran forward made no mistake, beating Merchants goalie Garrett Haden high to clinch the victory for the Bruins.
Following the game, Bruins head coach Geoff Hodgkinson praised the work of the line of overage Uxbridge forwards Smith, Mastrangelo and Thomson.
“They’ve got great chemistry together, that they scored four of our five goals tonight shows what they can do when they’re clicking.”
As well, Hodgkinson noted that the Bruins had responded well when challenged by the Merchants throughout the contest.
“I thought we were really resilient tonight, and we found a way to come back strong after facing some adversity. We’re forming a good identity on the defensive end and playing really strong in our own end.”
- With a goal and two assists against the Merchants, Smith extended his point streak to six straight games.
- The Bruins will be back in action at the Bear Den at 7:45 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4 when they tangle with the North Kawartha Knights.
- The Bruins will head to Little Britain on Saturday night for a 7:30 p.m. rematch with the Mercants.
- Uxbridge will also host a rare Tuesday night tilt at the Bear den against Georgina at 8:10 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8.
- On Friday, Dec. 11, the Bruins will host their annual ‘Teddy Bear Toss Night’ when the Port Perry MoJacks visit the Bear Den for a ‘Battle of North Durham’ at 7:45 p.m.
- New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at all Bruins home games in support of the Uxbridge Community Toy Drive.