BROOKS, AB (April 26, 2019) – The BCHL champion Prince George Spruce Kings scored the game-winner just 59 seconds in on Friday night, as goaltender Logan Neaton pitched a 30-save shutout at the Centennial Regional Arena with a 2-0 win over the host Brooks Bandits.
The win gives the Spruce Kings a 1-0 series lead in the best of 7 regional championship.
It was the first time the Bandits had been shut out at the CRA in more than five years, with the last coming February 8, 2014 in a 1-0 loss to the Okotoks Oilers.
Similarly to that half-decade old game, the Bandits outshot their opposition, with the final tally reading 30-22 for the home side.
But Ben Poisson converted on a net front scramble in the opening minutes, firing a shot home from the slot to give the Spruce Kings an early advantage they would hold for the duration of the game. Despite three first period power plays, the Bandits were outshot 11-6 in the opening frame, turning the game around in the middle period and outshooting the Spruce Kings 24-11 the rest of the way.
But Neaton stood tall, and got an important insurance goal at 13:18 of the third period when a Max Coyle shot ricocheted off a Bandit defender and past Pierce Charleson (Aurora, ON) to make it 2-0.
It was a rare blemish on the night for Charleson, who stopped 20 of 22 Spruce King shots, including a highlight reel save in the third when Dustin Manz fed a behind-the-back backhand pass across from the right corner to a waiting Sean Donaldson at the right side of the Bandit net. His one-time backhand shot, however, was snagged by Charleson’s glove to keep his team within striking distance.
The teams reconvene on Saturday night for Game 2 at 7:00 PM, with tickets available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca and the game once again live-streamed online for free on HockeyTV’s YouTube page.
If Brooks wins, Game 3 will be on Sunday night at the CRA at 7 PM; if Prince George wins, the series will shift to BC for the remaining games.