April 7, 2023 (BROOKS, AB) – Caelan Fitzpatrick scored a short-handed goal and empty net goal, propelling the Brooks Bandits to a 5-2 win in Game 1 of the South Division Final on Friday at the Centennial Regional Arena.
Ethan Barwick (St. Albert, AB) made 19 saves, while Brooks also received goals from Mikhail Simchuk (Kyiv, UA), Hudson Malinoski (Saskatoon, SK) and Hughie Hooker (Brandon, MB) to secure the team’s third straight playoff win. Brooks leads the Best-of-Seven series 1-0.
Brooks opened the scoring at 2:46, as Simchuk cleaned up a Tyler Blocha (Bonnyville, AB) rebound in front of the Bulldogs net to make it 1-0. The Bandits doubled the lead at 9:15, as Malinoski tucked in a backhand shot on an Aiden Fink (Calgary, AB) pass in the slot to make it 2-0. Blackfalds cut the lead to 2-1 at 15:20, as Connor Dick scored off the rush to make it 2-1.
Fitzpatrick’s first of the game came at 11:52 of the 2nd period, as he scored on a short-handed breakaway, one-handing the puck past Bulldogs starter Matthew Hennessey to make it 3-1. The Bandits killed off five straight penalties in the game, getting their first powerplay in the 3rd.
Hooker made it 4-1 Brooks at 5:27 of the 3rd period, blasting a slap shot from the blue line. Blackfalds cut the lead to 4-2 at 14:35 on the 5-on-3 powerplay, as Brett Meerman one-timed a right circle shot. But Fitzpatrick had the final say, retrieving the puck behind the Bulldogs empty net and sliding it in to make it 5-2. Final shots were 36-21 Brooks.
Game 2 of the South Final is Saturday, April 8th, at the CRA in Brooks. Game time is 7:00 pm.