BROOKS, AB (February 19, 2018) — It was a packed house and playoff-like atmosphere at the Centennial Regional Arena on Family Day as the Brooks Bandits (42-12-1) skated to a 4-2 home win over the rival Drumheller Dragons.
The biggest regular season attendance in four years, and largest ever Family Day crowd, witnessed a tight, physical game that saw the Bandits give up a 2-0 lead, only to pull away in the third period thanks to a Nolan Thompson game winner in front of a raucous crowd of 2,053.
Bandits goaltender Mitchel Benson (Windsor, ON) made 21 saves for his league-leading 41st win of the season. He also moved into 3rd all-time in minutes played in a season in AJHL history, with 35 minutes separating him from a new league record.
Brooks got on the scoreboard first, as forward Will Garin (Mound, MN) shot a puck from the bottom of the right circle that found its way through Dragons goaltender Hunter Virostek's legs just 3:55 into the game, which was the period's only goal. The Bandits outshot the Dragons 16-6 in the frame.
Garin would snipe his second of the night, top shelf at the 6:23 mark of the second period from once again the right circle to pull ahead 2-0. Forward Conner Jean (Oakland, MI) picked up his second assist of the night.
However, momentum shifted following a fight between the Bandits P.A. Martineau (Sherbrooke, QC) and Brayden Nicholetts of Drumheller. The Dragons responded with an unassisted goal from Brett Edwards, who made good on a fourth chance scramble in front of the Bandit net at 8:56 on the powerplay. Drumheller then tied the game 2-2 at 10:22 on a one-time blast from the point from defenceman Andrew Kartusch.
The game remained tied until just after the third period media timeout. After a successful offensive zone draw, Ryan Mahshie (Stoney Creek, ON) feathered a pass from the bottom of the right circle to a wide open Nolan Thompson, who reclaimed the Bandit lead to 3-2, knocking in the puck into the bottom left corner.
After a timeout, Drumheller pulled Virostek for the extra attacker, making for a thrilling finish. However, Bandits forward Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, ON) shot the puck off the boards and down the ice for the insurance goal with 46 seconds remaining.
The win was the Bandits 4th straight, and 15th consecutive home win.
The next game for the Bandits is Friday when they host the Drayton Valley Thunder. Game time is at 7:00 p.m., with tickets available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.