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NCDC: Boston Junior Bruins win 2018-19 Dineen Cup Championship

By Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com, 04/01/19, 6:00PM EDT

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The Boston Junior Bruins faced another early deficit and had to battle back - which they've done through two rounds of playoffs and six total games. This was just another day at the office. 

In the end, it was office party time, as the Junior Bruins won 3-2 against the Connecticut Jr. Rangers in Game 3 for the 2-1 series victory. 

Check out the game summary for scoring and statistical details. 

Jonny Mulera scored the game-and championship-winning goal at the 13:48 mark of the second period, swinging in off the sidewall to the slot for the well-placed shot. 

"That shows you the resiliency of us. We love each other and want to fight for each other," said Junior Bruins captain Luke Rowe, who scored the Junior Bruins' second goal of the game. "Everyone knows momentum is huge. Stay positive and everyone just had to go out and get the job done."

With just 9.6 seconds left on the clock in the first period, the Rangers' Max Kouznetsov came off the wall and sent it in for the first goal of the game.

The Junior Bruins have gotten used to being down and coming back. There aren't too many teams who have been down by a goal in the second game of a best-of-three series in which they were already down a game, and came back to win not just that game (yesterday), but the whole series. 

"It's a summary of what our season's like - at times, really good, and at times, it was a challenge just to change five guys," said Junior Bruins head coach Mike Anderson. "We really had a big range of emotions, and a lot of adversity and challenges in each of these last two series.

"When everyone left here Saturday [after the Rangers' 4-1 win], I said they had a choice to make - either going to be too much and they could hang their jerseys up, or they could fight and see if we could get the momentum back on our side."

The same momentum that saw the Junior Bruins score three goals inside of the final 10 minutes on Sunday to win Game 2 came back to them in the second period of Game 3. 

Ryan Lovett got it started with a rebound goal on the power play just 3:23 into the second period to tie the game.

At 12:29, a save off the facemask of the Junior Bruins' Yaniv Perets (46 saves) led to a quick transition the other way. Riley Prattson found a speedy Luke Rowe coming down the middle, hit him with a pass, and Rowe was in alone on Colten Lancaster and potted it home for the 2-1 lead. 

That, of course, was followed very shortly thereafter by Mulera's game-and championship-winner.

That didn't mean the Connecticut Jr. Rangers were done, though. An odd backhand shot from the point by Sam Milnes crossed behind a screened Perets for the Rangers' second goal, setting up an intense third period. 

The Rangers battered Perets with chance after chance, but not one of their 19 shots that period were able to solve the Quinnipiac recruit out of Dollard-des-Ormeux, Que.

The Junior Bruins won the championship in the end, but that didn't take away from Rangers coach Jim Henkel's praise for his team throughout the weekend.

"I'm really proud of my group. We gave it everything we had in the third period, and it just wasn't enough," said Henkel. "Yaniv played a great game today, but our guys came in and got no love all year long from anyone. We were not one of the chosen ones early on. We earned everything we got all year long.

"There are some really good things that are going to come out of this as a program, and that is what I am excited about," Henkel added.

The Jr. Rangers stayed on the ice to see the Junior Bruins lift the Dineen Cup, both out of respect and for Henkel to instill that hunger in his players. 

For the Junior Bruins, who had lost a hard-fought series in 2017 to the Islanders Hockey Club (winning their first of two straight), this was a hunger that was well-satisfied.

"What I'm excited about is that we talk to our kids about all the time, that this is a step in the process for them," said Anderson. "For them to represent at the college level, and in many cases at the Division 1 level, you feel like you're sending your [own] kids to college. These kids are ready mentally, physically to go to the next level, perform and be successful.

"Hopefully this is something they will carry with them for a long time," he added, "because there is no adversity they will experience playing this sport that they didn't experience go through at some point this year. Individually, there are a lot of [college] logos next to kids' names. Some of that came with pain,  some of that came with a lot of sacrifice, and good for those guys."

Congratulations to your 2018-19 Dineen Cup Champion Junior Bruins, and to your finalists, the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, on a fantastic season.