BROOKS, AB (February 18, 2017) – The Brooks Bandits (45-4-4) fired a franchise record 73 shots on goal at the Calgary Mustangs on Saturday night, but a 71-save performance by Calgary goalie Bailey Brkin turned a potential blowout into a nailbiter, in a 2-1 Bandit win in front of 1,505 fans at the Centennial Regional Arena in Brooks.
The Bandits outshot the Mustangs 19-5 in the first, 28-6 in the second and 26-3 in the third, but two first-period goals ended up being their only offensive output on the night.
Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, ON) one-timed in a power play goal from the slot at the 13:20 mark of the first to give the Bandits the lead on a setup from Oliver Chau (Oakville, ON). The goal extended the team’s streak of games with at least one power play goal to 20.
In the final minute of the first, the Bandits doubled the lead; a Dennis Cesana (Providence, RI) point shot went off of Brkin’s pad and came right to Nic Vlahos (Mississauga, ON) in the slot, who one-timed a rebound shot that Brkin made a sprawling save on. But a second rebound opportunity came to Ocean Wiesblatt (Calgary, AB), and the rookie Bandit forward tapped in his third career goal from the bottom of the left circle for the eventual game-winning goal.
After allowing a goal on the final shot of the first, Brkin made 52 consecutive saves the rest of the way, with the only further goal coming at 10:33 of the second on a Tyler Lentz point shot that Yuri Chernichko deflected past Bandit goalie Alex Horawski (Toronto, ON) to pull the Mustangs within one.
But despite a bevy of point blank and screened saves by Brkin down the stretch, and a stroke of good luck when Vachon collected a cross-ice pass at the right side of the Mustang net in the third and fired a shot over a sprawling Brkin but off the post, the Mustangs couldn’t muster sustained pressure on the Bandits, who held on for the narrow win.
The win puts the Bandits just 2 wins, or 4 points, away from clinching first overall in the AJHL. Their next game is Monday afternoon hosting the Drumheller Dragons at 4:00 PM for the team’s annual Family Day game. Kids 12 and under get in free, and the team will host its annual Skate With The Bandits after the game as well. Tickets are available at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.