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Empire Lands Knockout Blow against Jr. Bruins

By Brack Healey, 02/10/15, 11:45AM EST


The Hitmen sure picked a great weekend to turn in their best performance of the season. 

With two games looming against one of the top and hottest teams in the entire Empire division, the Hitmen bullied their way to a weekend sweep of the Junior Bruins, winning 7-2 and 4-3 respectively and ending the Bruins run of 10 wins in their past 11 games.

The Hitmen barely let the Junior Bruins get off their bus before jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first four minutes of the opening game on Saturday. Brett Connon got the boys in blue going with a blue-line blast power-play goal only 2:35 in. Just over a minute later Matt Koziel pumped home his sixth of the season to give the Hitmen an early 2-0 lead.

With less than six minutes remaining in the first the Junior Bruins cut the Hitmen lead to 2-1 on a power-play goal of their own. However, Stephen Bressi warmed to the task and gave the Hitmen their 2-goal lead back with a beautiful end-to-end rush with less than 2 minutes to play in the first. 

Chris Brunner-Grande extended the Hitmen lead to 4-1 early in the second on a setup from Blair Barrows and Kenny O’Brien. Connon would add his second goal of the game and give the Hitmen a 5-1 lead 10:32 into the second. Riley Flynn and O’Brien tallied back-to-back goals in a span of 16 seconds near the end of the second to blow the game open. 

The Hitmen would dominate the remainder of the game and claimed a 7-2 victory when the final buzzer went off. Josh Welte was solid in net and made 20 saves for the win.

Sunday morning the teams were back at it again. Flynn opened up the scoring 11:52 into the first period to give the Hitmen a 1-0 lead. Just over four minutes later the Jr. Bruins would even the score. Flynn would provide the Hitmen with a 2-1 lead just 8:15 into the second but with 1:17 left in the second the Jr. Bruins would respond with a goal of their own.

Not to be deterred, the Hitmen would get the goal right back on a Brunner-Grande snapshot which gave the Hitmen a 3-2 lead with only 23 seconds left in the second.

Frank Steffe would get in on the action, scoring a nifty breakaway goal 7:18 into the third. The Hitmen held a 4-2 lead until the Jr. Bruins were able to cut it to 4-3 with just under 7 minutes to play. However, the Empire team showed great resolve and were able to hold on for the 4-3 win.

With the sweep, the Empire team improved to 21-12 on the season.