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Bookman breaks AJHL record, Fink nets game winner as Bandits comeback in a 7-6 win in Drumheller

DRUMHELLER, AB (February 25, 2022) – Zach Bookman broke another AJHL record, TJ Hughes scored a hat trick, and the Brooks Bandits completed the comeback in a wild 7-6 win over the Dragons at the Memorial Arena on Friday.

Bookman broke the league record for most points in a season by a defenceman with his 101st point, passing Dave Babych who had 100 in the 1977-78 season. Aiden Fink scored the game winning goal, and the Bandits (52-5-2) won their sixth consecutive game, and third straight on the road.

Drumheller opened the scoring at 10:40 on the powerplay, as forward Carter Belitski redirected a Tanner Willick shot to make it 1-0. But Hughes scored his first of the night at 15:34, cleaning up a loose puck in the crease after defenceman Wes Turner (Holy Cross) shot off the post from the point, tying the game 1-1. But less than a minute later, Dragons defenceman Kiano Robinson fired a top left corner shot to reclaim the 2-1 lead. Brooks went on the powerplay and forward Dario Beljo tapped in a Bookman shot at 18:02 to tie the game 2-2. Bookman got an assist, his 101st point, breaking an AJHL record for the third time in the last week. However, just nine seconds later, the Bandits had a miscue behind their own net, turning the puck over to Ty Whitford who then found the back of the net to give Drumheller a 3-2 lead. Shots were 15-8 Brooks in the period.



The Dragons needed only 62 seconds of the 2nd period to take a 4-2 lead, as forward Ty Daneault scored from the right circle to make it 4-2. But Brooks responded, as Robinson fell over as he was trying to play the puck at his own blueline, leaving a breakaway chance for Bandits forward Ryan McAllister (Western Michigan), who tucked a forehand shot past Dragons starter Garrett Fuller to cut the lead to 4-3 at 4:07. But just 20 seconds later, Drumheller went up 5-3 as Belitski finished off a wraparound attempt, chasing Ethan Barwick from the net as Max Beckford came in as relief. Bandits forward Anthony Cipollone (Quinnipiac) tipped a Bookman shot into the net to cut the deficit to 5-4 at 10:14. Hughes got his own rebound on a net front scramble at 12:28 to tie the game 5-5, and then completed the hat trick at 14:40 on the powerplay, toe-dragging the defender and scoring a forehand shot to make it 6-5 Brooks, their first lead of the game, seconds after Hughes was denied on a one-timer by a huge stick save from Fuller. However, Drumheller forward Hayden Prosofsky cleaned up a loose puck in the crease at 18:07 on the powerplay to tie the game 6-6. Shots in the 2nd were 15-12 Bandits.

After Brooks killed off an Aiden Fink (Wisconsin) penalty, Fink came out of the box and had a breakaway just 2:49 into the third period. He was denied on a save from Fuller, but the rebound went off the goaltender and redirected off Dragons forward Luke Fennig into his own net to make it 7-6 Brooks. The Dragons tried to tie, but had two attempts waved off. Shots in the third were 11-9 Bandits and 41-29 overall.

The Bandits final game of the 2021-22 regular season is Saturday, February 26th in a rematch with the Dragons at the Centennial Regional Arena in Brooks. Game time is 7:00 pm.

Tickets are free for fans 17 and under, plus the $35,000 Cash Raffle and Big 5050 draw is in the 2nd intermission. There’s also a pregame awards ceremony.