Bandits pull away in third for 5-3 win in Fort McMurray

FORT McMURRAY, AB (January 19, 2018) – Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, ON) scored just under halfway through the third period to break a 3-3 deadlock, as the Brooks Bandits (32-11-1) won their fifth straight game, snapping the six-game win streak of the host Fort McMurray Oil Barons (31-7-3) by a 5-3 margin on Friday night.

It was the second straight Bandit win with a game-winning goal scored by Vachon, after his overtime winner against Camrose last Saturday night.

For the 23rd time in 44 games this season, the Bandits allowed the opening goal, as a giveaway in the Brooks zone provided a breakaway chance to Oil Barons forward Jarred White, who tucked a low backhand shot past Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON) to give the home side a 1-0 lead just 9:01 into the game.

But just over two minutes later, the hot hand of Louis Jamernik (Calgary, AB) came into play, as a feed in front from linemate Mack Hancock (Kingston, ON) led to a net front goal for the Bandit rookie to tie the game 1-1.

Jamernik followed up with his second of the night with just under three minutes left in the opening frame, when a Simon Boyko (Mississauga, ON) wraparound attempt slid through the crease for a backdoor tap-in to make it 2-1 Brooks.

But the Barons tied it less than a minute later when the Bandits again turned the puck over in their own end, and a centering pass found Shane Fraser in the slot for a one-time goal and a 2-2 tie heading into the first intermission.

In the second, the Bandits dominated on the shot count, outshooting Fort McMurray 15-6 and only allowing 1 shot on goal in the opening 15 minutes of the period. But Brooks only broke through against Barons goalie Eric Szudor once, on a perfectly placed wrist shot by Dennis Cesana (Providence, RI) on the power play at the 13:44 mark to reclaim a one goal lead. But less than two minutes later, the Oil Barons got a power play of their own and converted when a Taner Miller point shot was tipped home by Curtis Roach to make it 3-3 after two periods.

The third period belonged to Brooks, however, despite an 8-8 tie in shots on goal. The game-winner came at the 9:30 mark when Jakob LaPointe (Leduc, AB) fired a sharp angle shot that ricocheted off the side of the Barons net and popped right out to Vachon for a quick one-time goal from the slot. Then, with just under five minutes left in the game, Vachon sprung Jake Theis (Chanhassen, MN), who carried into the Barons zone to the right circle and fired a shot post-and-in to give the Bandits some insurance and a 5-3 lead.

Both teams were 1 for 5 on their respective power plays as the Bandits earned their seventh consecutive win at the Casman Centre dating back to the clinching Game 6 of the 2012 AJHL Final.

The Bandits return to action Saturday night taking on the Bonnyville Pontiacs on the road at 7:30 PM. Pre-game coverage starts at 7:15 on Real Country 105.7.