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KIJHL Notebook — Border Bruins top Murdoch Division

After two weeks of play in the Neil Murdoch Division of the KIJHL, the Grand Forks Border Bruins lead the division with a 3-1-1 record. — Photo courtesy Jennifer Small

The Grand Forks Border Bruins are the toast of the Neil Murdoch Division following week two of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

The Bruins won two of their three games last week, including a 3-0 road victory over the Nelson Leafs, and currently are first in their division.

Head Coach & GM Dave Hnatiuk said the start of the season has been nice and one they were hoping for.

“It’s nice seeing us score some goals this year on 5-on-5. Overall we are looking a lot stronger than last year. It’s a fun atmosphere right now,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do, but first give games, we’re pretty happy with the way things are going.”

What has stood out about their performance has been their ability to score goals. Last year was a challenge generating offence.

“This year we’re able to have more offensive power. Our top guys are being our top guys and that’s what you need,” he said, adding that the additions of Spencer Horning, Cody Laybolt and Tyson Tokarz has been huge.

The trio make up three of their top-five point producers.

The Nelson Leafs were on a roll winning three straight.

However, the Green and White were surprised Sunday when the Bruins shutout Nelson at Home.

Head Coach Adam DiBella said they have been impressed with many elements of their game.

“Whether you win or lose, we always have to be looking at ways to get better,” he said.

“We looked great in the first game of the week against Creston, and we did not so great against Grand Forks.”

The Leafs have been incredibly impressed with their goaltending and DiBella says that position has “probably earned us all of our points.” Rookie Jasper Tait is 3-0 to start with a 1.33 goals against average and .958 save percentage.

With two wins in four games, Beaver Valley Nitehawks Head Coach & GM Terry Jones said his team has been quite inconsistent with their play.

“We need to start playing a full 60-minute game,” he said. “We have had some good moments though and we look to continue to improve on all facets, including playing hard without getting undisciplined penalties.”

Going 5-for-26 on the power-play tells Jones that area needs more work as he said they “are not doing the basic principles well enough.”

Jones said that rookie Kevin Unruh “had an amazing first game in the league getting a hat-trick” while Beau Manegre “has been a steady contributor and all three of our goaltenders (Nathan Presley, Connor Stojan and Zachary Mussio) have had solid starts.”

The Castlegar Rebels have won two of their four games to open the season and are led by rookie Evan Calder who has four points. The Rebels recently split their games against Beaver Valley, a win, then dropped a 4-2 decision to Grand Forks.

Ethan Lawczynski, who won 10 games last season, has both Rebel wins with a 2.27 goals against average and a .935 save percentage.