The Border Bruins welcomed players’ parents and family to town for their annual family weekend and had a successful time with a pair of victories over divisional rivals.
On Friday night, the Bruins finally met the division-leading Beaver Valley Nitehawks for the first time this season. The Nitehawks were five points ahead of the Bruins having an 11-2 record for the season.
Striking first, the Hawks got their first goal of the game when Tim Josza picked up the rebound off a shot from Roan Crowe, skated behind the Bruins net from left-to-right, and passed the puck ahead to Ollie Clement to snap the puck past Matthew Dovichak just two minutes into the game. Three minutes later, with the Nitehawks sitting two men in the penalty box for too many men on the ice and tripping, Levi Astill played the puck to Josh Missfeldt in the high slot. Missfeldt put the puck through heavy traffic past Connor Stojan to tie the game on a 5-on-3 power play. Near the 12-minute mark of the period, Connor Drake played the puck ahead in the Nitehawks zone only to be intercepted by Tyler Fairbairn. Fairbairn put his wrist shot over Stojan’s shoulder to give the Bruins the lead. The Bears weren’t done with the first period. JP Desabrais picked up the rebound from his own shot, carried it behind the net and found Levi Astill sweeping into the crease to tap the puck five-hole on Stojan, putting the Bruins ahead 3-1.
The Bruins made the most of their power play opportunities, with Ben Edwards adding a power play goal six minutes into the second period, deflecting a pass from Ray Warrack into the net. Comfortably ahead by three goals, the Bruins gave up a pair just ten seconds apart to Tim Josza and Adam Redding midway through the period. Josza picked up the rebound off a shot from Roan Crowe finding an open side of the Bruins net. Finding some jump after their second goal, the Beaver Valley squad pressured their way into the Bruins zone and Redding had some room to score his seventh goal of the season, bringing the Nitehawks within one of the Bruins. While on the penalty kill, Chad Bates showed his speed on the ice, playing the puck off the boards past Hawks defender Will Caputo for a breakaway on the Beaver Valley net and his second short-handed goal of the season. The Bruins led 5-3 at the second intermission.
In the third period, on another power play, Will Caputo passed the puck to Roan Crowe at the near-side hash marks. Crowe’s one-timer beat Dovichak glove-side to again bring the game within one. At 11:52, Carter Skarbon intercepted a clearing pass at the Nitehawks blue line, passing ahead to find Levi Astill at the net and giving Astill his second goal of the night. On the power play two minutes later, Ray Warrack played the puck from behind the net to Ben Edwards in front of the crease. While Edwards was being knocked to the ice, he got a quick shot away and put the puck through Stojans legs five-hole for his second power play goal of the night. That goal put the Bruins up 7-4, which was the final score for the night.
The Nelson Leafs enjoyed a 3-2 victory in Spokane on Friday night, coming into Saturday’s game six points behind the Bruins in the Neil Murdoch division. Following a brief ceremony to commemorate Remembrance Day, the Bruins launched into a commanding first and second periods. Carter Skarbon scored his first career KIJHL goal near the ten-minute mark of the first, off a pass from Levi Astill, putting the puck over Frederick Larochelle’s left shoulder. On a power play two minutes later, JP Desabrais snapped a pass from Carter Price through traffic and behind Larochelle for a 2-0 lead.
In the second period, Josh Missfeldt fired a shot on the Nelson net from the left side, and though the officials didn’t immediately signal a goal, the crowd at the Jack watched the replay on the video wall and audibly helped signal what they saw. After a quick check among the officials, the goal was confirmed, putting the Bruins ahead 3-0. With 44 seconds left in the period, Bruins scoring leader Keanan Pearman pulled the puck from the back wall to just in front of the Nelson net for a quick shot that put the Bruins ahead by 4.
Almost five minutes into the third period, with the puck tied up in the near-side corner, Aidan Turner picked the puck out of the crowd and passed it out front of the Bruins net to Ty Nykyforuk. His one-timer finally got a puck past Matthew Dovichak, who had a great game on Saturday ultimately blocking 33 Nelson shots while just allowing the one goal. Eight minutes later, Chad Bates fished the puck out from under a pile in the Bruins end, carried the puck ahead to the Nelson zone and passed off to Nate Tillmanns. Tillmanns scored his seventh goal of the season just seconds after a Bruins penalty expired. The final score on Saturday night was 5-1 Bruins.
Bruins head coach and general manager Dave Hnatiuk said after the weekend that the team’s systems and structure really showed through the two games, things that have been a big part of recent practices.
The wins, coupled with a Beaver Valley loss on Saturday night to the Spokane Braves, move the Bruins within one point of the Hawks in the standings, a point ahead of the Castlegar Rebels who slip narrowly into third place.
The Bruins face the Leafs again tonight (Wednesday) in their first visit to Nelson of the year, then travel to Armstrong to face the North Okanagan Knights on Friday. It’s back to the Jack on Saturday night when Grand Forks hosts the Spokane Braves at 7 p.m.