The Grand Forks Border Bruins came out swinging in their fight to regain relevance in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) as they faced-off against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks to open the they 2010/2011 season in front of a full house on home-ice at the Grand Forks Arena.
The Border Bruins haven’t been relevant in the KIHL for some time, sitting at, or near the bottom of the standings since the mid-1990’s, and only amassing a grand total of 17 wins in the previous two seasons over a combined 102 games. This year appears to different, and while appearances are sometimes deceiving, the on-ice product that the Border Bruins were able to muster in their home opener and following two games indicate this year will indeed be different.
With a strong core of players returning from last season, including all-star Lucas Hildebrand and leading scorer Zachary Thompson, the Bruins took to the ice against the Nitehawks to start the season.
Thompson opened the scoring for the Bruins before Beaver Valley tallied two of their own to take a 2-1 lead into the second period of play. Hildebrand potted Grand Forks’ second goal of the game to knot it at two. Both team traded third period goals before the Nitehawks scored with 5:10 left in the game to take the lead and the win 4-3.
Thompson finished the game with two points – a goal, and an assist.
Border Bruins Director of Hockey Operations Tom Frith said that while the team was missing three key offseason additions, a Californian – Nick Van Damme, and two Belarusian brother – Yan and Artsiom Kalashniko, he was “impressed with the energy level that [their] nine forwards and six defensemen displayed [during the game].” And while a loss is a loss, the Bruins feel like they have a lot to build on as they move forward through the season.
Since the home-opener, the Bruins have played two games, a 5-2 loss to the Spokane Braves on Sunday, and a 4-3 loss to the Castlegar Rebels on Tuesday.
The Bruins return home on Friday to take on the North Okanagan Knights at 7:30pm at the Grand Forks Arena and play again, at home, the following night at 7:30pm, against the Nelson Leafs.
The Bruins record stands at 0-3-0-0, through their first three games to start the season.