Bruins snap losing streak in style with return of captain and North Okanagan sweep

The Grand Forks Border Bruins broke out of their recent slump in a big way on the weekend – winning two road games in the North Okanagan.

The Grand Forks Border Bruins broke out of their recent slump in a big way on the weekend – winning two road games in the North Okanagan.The Bruins beat Kelowna and North Okanagan during the trip and moved to within one point of Spokane in the Neil Murdoch division battle for the last play-off spot.“Obviously, the return of our captain and leading scorer (Jackson Purvis) is enough but we really have to credit the whole group,” said head coach Kevin Flather. “As a whole, everybody got on board. The key really was preparation.”Flather said the team came in early over the break, a full six days before the Friday game and have been doing two and three practice sessions a day.“It was what we did all week, everything we worked on, in those sessions,” he said. “We took out the first place team in their division (Kelowna) without our starting centre (Dakota Kittle). Purvis picked up four points on the weekend. We’ve got our leader back. They all rallied behind him.”Flather relayed that Kelowna at one point took a run at Purvis, but the whole Bruins team came to his side.“That’s when the boys woke up,” he said. “They wouldn’t let him get hurt again.” After eight straight losses, The Bruins headed into Armstrong Friday and beat North Okanagan Knights 5-2 to get back in the win column.Connor Gross led the way with two goals, while Jackson Purvis picked up an assist in his return from nearly a month off with a concussion.The Bruins led 2-0 after the first period with a power play from Gross, assisted by Mitchell Dolman and Mitchell Pearson, and a regulation goal by Coleton Dawson, from Rav Shokar and Purvis.Ryan Kelm brought North Oke within one at 1:38 of the second period. Another power play marker from Gross (assisted by Michael Rand and Dakota Kittle) put the Bears up two a pair again after two.North Okanagan once again cut the GF lead to one with a goal from Cole Woodliffe at 9:19 of the third.Rand, assisted by Shokar and Corey Munro, scored with just over a minute left to give the Bruins a two goal cushion at 4-2.Munro got an empty net insurance marker with 14 seconds left, assisted by Dawson and Lukas Peters.“Our third and fourth lines played amazing in North Oke,” said Flather. Kai McDonald was solid between the pipes for Grand Forks stopping 49 of 51 shots.On Saturday, the Border Bruins beat the Okanagan division leading Kelowna Chiefs on the road 6-4 to win their second straight.
Leading the team was Gross with four points including the game winning goal with two minutes left. “Connor (Gross)’s is a natural goal scorer,” said Flather. “His ability to stay calm under pressure and not panic is incredible. His panic threshold is really high. He just stayed focused and tucked the puck in.”Max Newton and Rand also added a pair of goals each. Purvis chipped in with three assists in his second game back.Flather said the key to the win for the Bruins was playing strong in the third period.“Kelowna couldn’t stay with us in the third,” he said. “I told the boys that they we would win the game in the third period. They can’t skate with us.”McDonald started for the second straight night and was solid again stopping 43 of 47 shots.“Kai played phenomenal,” said Flather. “His really worked on centering his chi. He’s been working on being more calm out there. He was solid both nights and make stops and gave us a chance to win.”Dominik Stadynk is back in the line-up but had to settle for back up goaltender duties during the road trip.“He wants to get in the net but Kai’s been hot lately,” said Flather. “Kai’s earned it. He’s a great kid. He’s worked hard on and off the ice.”Stadnyk is expected to get the start in the Bears next game Friday when the Bruins are in Midway to face Princeton.“Last time out there we played Kelowna and they handed it to us,” said Flather. “I feel we owe it to the Midway fans to really give them a good game. We’re going to be coming to play. We want to ride this momentum and pick up number three.”
The team returns to Grand Forks on Saturday to play tough Beaver Valley at the Jack Goddard Memorial Arena. The Nitehawks are riding a 10 game winning streak and are only point behind league leading Nelson. “They’ve been really hot lately,” said Flather. “We want to really skate them and make them play our hockey in our arena.” Game time is 7 p.m. for both.

Grand Forks Gazette