BROOKS, AB (March 8, 2018) – Matt Cassidy (Medford, NJ) had the game-winner in the second period, as the Brooks Bandits turned a 2-1 second period lead into a 6-1 final score courtesy of a four-goal outburst in the third, taking a 1-0 lead in their best-of-five AJHL South Quarterfinal series with the Canmore Eagles on Thursday night.
The Bandits outshot the Eagles 35-11 in the opening two periods and 50-21 in the game, but never took a commanding lead on the scoreboard until nearly 52 minutes of playing time had passed, with Canmore goalie Thomas Davis stealing the show with a 44-save performance, including 33 stops in the opening 40 minutes.
Despite outshooting the Eagles 18-7 in the opening frame, the only goal of the first game at the 13:48 mark when Ryan Mahshie (Stoney Creek, ON) fired a shot home from the left circle that skipped off Davis’ glove and into the back of the Canmore net.
The Eagles tied the game on their first power play of the series, when Taden Rattie spun and fired a shot home from the top of the crease at 6:28 of the second.
But just under halfway through the game, Cassidy put the Bandits back out in front when he collected a cross-ice pass from Shane Bear (Calgary, AB) on the power play and one-timed a perfect top shelf shot past Davis for a 2-1 Bandit lead.
In the third, the Bandits began to pull away after Canmore defenceman Jesse Sheen was sent to the box for a net front cross check on Dennis Cesana (Providence, RI). A Will Garin (Mound, MN) shot from the right circle at 11:45 created a scramble that ended with the puck sliding over the goal line to make it 3-1, while on the very next shift, David D’Agostino (Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON) tapped in a rebound goal from the right side of the Canmore cage to make it 4-1 just 15 seconds after Garin’s goal, marking the Bandit veteran’s first goal of the season in his first game played since November 25th.
Just under a minute into the third, Canmore lost its only goal scorer when Rattie was ejected for interference from the bench, and subsequently issued a one-game suspension.
With the Eagles pressing late in the third and the net empty, Mack Hancock (Kingston, ON) won a key defensive zone draw, allowing Brandon Scanlin (Hamilton, ON) to lift a puck down ice for Jake Theis (Chanhassen, MN) to chase down and fire into the yawning cage to make it 5-1 Bandits. In the final minute, after another Canmore penalty, Cale List (Petawawa, ON) fired in a wrister from the right circle to notch the 6-1 final score and earn free Wendy’s cheeseburgers once again for nearly 1,200 fans with the last minute marker.
As the final buzzer went, Simon Boyko of Brooks and Justin Giacomin of Canmore dropped the gloves in a brief tussle at the side of the Canmore net that ended with the two combatants falling to the ice.
The series continues with Game 2 on Friday night at the CRA in Brooks at 7:00 PM. Tickets are available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.