SPRUCE GROVE, AB (October 28, 2023) – Mirko Buttazzoni scored twice, including a 2nd period goal that sparked a 7-3 comeback win for the Brooks Bandits over the Saints in a wild Saturday night tilt at the Grant Fuhr Arena.
Down 3-1 in the 2nd period, Buttazzoni’s second goal of the night cued the Bandits comeback that saw them score six unanswered goals and win their fourth consecutive game. Brooks (15-2) sit in 1st place in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with 30 points. The Bandits penalty kill went 4/4, while the powerplay went 2/4. Goaltender Johnny Hicks made 21 saves in a winning effort.
The Saints needed seven seconds to score the game’s first goal, as Ryan Johnstone beat goaltender Johnny Hicks (Kamloops, BC) on a forehand shot to give the Saints a quick 1-0 lead. The Bandits tied the game at 1-1 at 6:08 in the powerplay, as Buttazzoni (Langley, BC) sniped a tight-angle shot over the shoulder of Saints starter Beckett Langkow. Forward Ewan McPherson (Edmonton, AB) got the primary assist in his return to Spruce Grove after playing two seasons for the Saints.
The Bandits fell behind 3-1 on back-to-back goals from the Saints in the 2nd period. Forward Carter Oakenfold tucked in a backhand pass at 3:13 to make it 2-1. The Saints had a five-on-three powerplay less than a minute later, but the Bandits successfully killed it off. However, Johnstone scored again at 10:19, beating Hicks on a shot off the rush. But Brooks rallied, as Buttazzoni capitalized on a left circle shot that went into the Saints net at 15:53 to cut the lead to 3-2. Forward Ty Mason (Weyburn, SK) tied the game 3-3 just nine seconds later off a centre ice faceoff win, getting to a puck in the right circle, striping the Saints defender of the puck and scoring, increasing his goal streak to three games.
Forward Caelan Fitzpatrick (Moose Jaw, SK) gave Brooks their first lead of the night at 3:37 of the 3rd period. Forward Nic DeGraves (Edmonton, AB) carried into the Saints zone and dished off to Fitzpatrick, who sniped a bardown shot to make it 4-3. The insurance marker came at 15:03, as defenceman Quinn McCall (St. John, IN) fired in a shot from the left circle, top shelf, to give Brooks a 5-3 lead. A minute later at 16:13, defenceman Ethan Beyer (Centennial, CO) fired in a point shot to blow the game open for Brooks, increasing their advantage to 6-3. The Saints emptied the net with three minutes to play, but forward Jordan Hughesman (Winnipeg, MB) scored from centre ice on the empty net to seal the 7-3 win.
The Bandits outshot the Saints 16-2 in the 3rd period, for a total of 32-24.
The Bandits are back in action on Tuesday, October 31st when they travel to Blackfalds to face the Bulldogs. Game time is 7:00 pm.