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Bandits win 7th AJHL Championship thanks to Poshak overtime goal in Game 5 thriller

BROOKS, AB (April 28, 2023) – For the seventh time in team history, the Brooks Bandits are Alberta Junior Hockey League Champions thanks to a 3-2 overtime win over the Spruce Grove Saints on Friday at the Centennial Regional Arena.

Forward Brendan Poshak (Green Bay, WI) scored 5:10 into overtime, driving the Saints net and shelving the puck to bring 2,135 fans to their feet. The Bandits won the 2023 Inter Pipeline Cup series 4 games to 1. Brooks has previously captured the AJHL Title in 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2019, 2022.

Brooks got out to a hot start, thanks to back to back goals from centre Caelan Fitzpatrick (Moose Jaw, SK). He first scored at 6:34, as Heath Armstrong (Calgary, AB) intercepted a Saints breakout pass and found Fitzpatrick open in front, who shelved the puck to make it 1-0 Brooks. The Bandits doubled the lead at 19:47 on the powerplay, as Fitzpatrick got a puck to settle down in the slot and scored to make it 2-0.

The Saints got one back at 11:58, as forward Liam Watkins scored off the rush to cut the lead to 2-1. Spruce tied the game at 11:56 of the 3rd period, as forward Luigi Benincasa cleaned up a loose puck and scored in a goal that was challenged as goaltender interference, but to no result.

Poshak scored 5:10 into overtime, driving on his backhand wide left and then roofing the puck behind Saints goalie Jameson Kaine, who replaced Spencer Michnik after the 1st period.

Goaltender Ethan Barwick (St. Albert, AB) was named the 2023 AJHL Playoff MVP. He won 12 games, posting a 2.13 goals against average, .915 save percentage and set a team record for career AJHL Playoff wins with 24. He joins Jan Obernesser (2012), Maddison Smiley (2013), Dylan McCrory (2016), Cale Makar (2017, Brandon Scanlin (2019) and Ryan McAllister (2022) as Bandits to win the AJHL Playoff MVP.

The Bandits have qualified for the 2023 Centennial Cup in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, which begins May 11th. All games will be broadcast on Real Country 105.7 FM.