CAMROSE, AB (February 19, 2016) – Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, AB) scored the game-winner with 2:34 left in regulation, as the Brooks Bandits (45-7-2) came back from a 2-1 third period deficit to beat the Camrose Kodiaks (34-16-4) by a 3-2 final score in front of a near capacity crowd of 1,167 at the Max McLean Arena on Friday night.
The game, played at the Kodiaks’ old home rink, was the team’s annual Retro Night, with the Bandits playing in a rink in which they hadn’t won a game since the 2004-05 season. It was the first time the Bandits had trailed after two periods since a home game against Bonnyville on November 27th, and the first time this season that the Bandits came back to win a game after a two-period deficit.
The Kodiaks used their power play, which operated at just under 30% against the Bandits this season, to open the scoring in the first. On the team’s first man advantage, Mackenzie Bauer fired a long shot from the blue line that beat Garret Hughson (Foremost, AB) through a screen to give the home side the early lead.
But the Bandits tied it in similar fashion with just over five minutes left in the opening frame, when Logan Mick (Vernon, BC) won a faceoff to Shane Bear (Calgary, AB), whose long shot from the right point beat Patrick Gora through a screen. Despite a 15-9 Bandits shot lead in the first, the game was deadlocked.
A back and forth second saw the Kodiaks become the only team to convert on a chance in the middle stanza, when Nelson Gadoury won a puck battle at the end boards of the Bandits zone and flung a puck in front to leading goal scorer Cole McBride, whose point blank shot went off of Hughson and in for a 2-1 Kodiak lead.
In the third, the Bandits poured on the pressure, outshooting the Kodiaks 18-11 (for a 48-29 regulation advantage) and converting twice. First, with less than five minutes on the clock, Jared Cockrell (Byfield, MA) sped into the Kodiak zone along the right wing side, showing incredible patience as he swung around the net, and rather than trying a wraparound shot, centered the puck to Parker Foo (Edmonton, AB), who one-timed it past a fallen Gora to tie the game up.
The Bandits took their first lead of the night just 2:16 later, when off a faceoff, Dylan McCrory (Kirkland, PQ) centered a puck to Prkusic at the left circle. The Bandit veteran’s first backhand shot was denied by Gora, but #15 picked up his own rebound and flipped it over the goalie and in to give Brooks the 3-2 advantage, to which it would hold on for the final buzzer.
The Bandits end the season series 3-3 against the Kodiaks, and now sit one point back of the Spruce Grove Saints for first overall in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) standings, with one game in hand.
Brooks returns home for a Saturday night matchup with the visiting Grande Prairie Storm at the Centennial Regional Arena at 7:00 PM. Tickets are available at tickets.brooksbandits.ca, with the live broadcast beginning on Q105.7 at 6:45.