Bandits drop Game 1 of AJHL Final, look to rebound on Saturday for Game 2

BROOKS, AB (April 29, 2022) – For the first time in the 2022 Playoffs, the Brooks Bandits are trailing in a series, dropping a 7-3 decision to the Spruce Grove Saints on Friday at the Centennial Regional Arena.

The Saints lead the best-of-seven League Final 1-0, with Game 2 of the series scheduled for Saturday, April 30 at the CRA, game time is 7:00 pm.

After a scoreless opening 11 minutes, Saints forward Luigi Benincasa scored off the rush to make it 1-0 Spruce Grove at 11:12. But Brooks would tie it up at 15:28 as Ryan McAllister (Western Michigan) scored on a forehand shot from the left circle to make it 1-1. Brooks took their first lead of the night at 18:57, as forward Heath Armstrong scored from the bottom of the right circle, short-side, tucking it underneath Saints netminder Tristan Martin to give Brooks the 2-1 advantage. Shots were 15-9 Bandits in the period. Brooks had a potential goal waved off in the period, as the Bandits Zach Bookman thought he had snuck one behind Martin, but it was deemed to have not crossed the line.

Spruce Grove tied the game just 25 seconds in the 2nd, as forward Jayden Davis scored on a shorthanded breakaway. But the Bandits reclaimed the lead, as forward TJ Hughes (Michigan) finished off a Dario Beljo attempt from the right circle on the powerplay to give Brooks a 3-2 lead. Bandits goaltender Ethan Barwick (Lindenwood) forced Davis to miss on a penalty shot attempt. The Saints tied it up 3-3 at 4:23, as Ewan McPherson scored top shelf from the right circle, followed by a Hunter Brown goal off the rush to make it 4-3 Spruce Grove at 4:52. Liam Watkins added another at 9:34 to make it 5-3, followed by a shorthanded goal from Caden Cabana on a loose puck to make it 6-3 at 11:39. Shots were 12-8 Brooks in the period.

The Saints added a powerplay goal at 18:10 in the 3rd period to make it 7-3, the final. Shots in the 3rd were 10-7 Spruce Grove, and 31-30 Saints total.

Tickets for Game 2 are available here.

Photo: Em Duncan