Free scores shootout winner, Bandits edge Bulldogs in Blackfalds thriller

BLACKFALDS, AB (December 13, 2022) – Nathan Free scored the only goal of the shootout, as the Brooks Bandits won a thrilling 3-2 game over the Bulldogs in their final road trip of 2022 Tuesday night at the Eagle Builders Centre.

Heath Armstrong (Calgary, AB) and Hughie Hooker (Brandon, MB) scored the two Bandits goals, as Brooks erased a 2-1 deficit in the 2nd period and thanks to a perfect 7/7 penalty kill, skated to their second straight win on the road. Ethan Barwick (St. Albert, AB) was superb with 32 saves, and didn’t allow a goal in the shootout. Brooks improves to 32-2-2 with a 25-point lead on 2nd place in the South Division.

Armstrong opened the scoring at 6:41 of the 1st period, taking a saucer-pass from Tyler Blocha (Bonnyville, AB) and driving to the Bulldogs net, beating starter Matt Hennessey on a backhander to make it 1-0 Brooks. But Blackfalds would score back-to-back goals at 11:26 on a backhander from Jason Siedem and another at 12:21 from David Brandes on a delayed call to make it 2-1 Bulldogs. Brooks outshot Blackfalds 13-8 in the period.

After killing off a 5-on-3 disadvantage, Brooks tied the game at 14:28 of the 2nd period, as Dario Beljo (Sudbury, ON) passed to Hooker, who gained the Bulldogs zone and fired in a top shelf shot for his second straight game with a goal. Bandits forward Jordan Hughesman (Winnipeg, MB) had a chance with a penalty shot, but was denied.

Brooks outshot Blackfalds 14-5 in the 3rd period, but needed overtime for the fourth time this season. With both goaltenders shutting the door in the overtime, including a split save from Barwick, a shootout was needed.

Elliot Dutil (Montreal, QC) and Armstrong were the first two Bandit shooters, but were unable to convert. Barwick turned aside all three Bulldogs shooters, setting up Free (Calgary, AB) with a chance to win the game. The winger scored on a forehand shot, glove side, to give Brooks the hard fought 3-2 win. Final shots were 41-34 Brooks.

The Bandits final two games before Christmas go this weekend, with two North Division teams visiting the CRA. On Friday, December 16, the Bandits host the Bonnyville Pontiacs, and are offering $5 admission to all who bring a non-perishable food item donation for the Brooks Food Bank. Brooks will then host the Lloydminster Bobcats on Saturday, December 17. The 2nd intermission will feature the $5,000 Cash Raffle Early Bird Draw. Both games start at 7:00 pm.