OLDS, AB (March 20, 2017) – The Brooks Bandits trailed for the first time in their playoff series with the Olds Grizzlys on Monday night, but bounced back with 9 consecutive goals for a 9-1 win in Game 3, taking a 3 games to none lead and putting the Grizzlys on the brink of elimination tomorrow night.
Parker Foo (Edmonton, AB) and Conner Jean (Oakland, MI) led the way offensively with 3 points each, moving them to 3rd and 4th in the AJHL in playoff scoring despite having missed the first round. Cale Makar (Calgary, AB) also chipped in 3 points.
Olds opened the scoring just 44 seconds into the game when a pass by Jared Power from the end boards found Owen Guenter at the left circle, whose quick one-time shot slid past goalie Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON) to give the Grizzlys their first lead of the series. It would be the only blemish on Benson’s night, however, as he went on to stop 27 of 28 shots.
Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, ON) tied the game at 3:24 on his team-leading 4th playoff goal when a Dennis Cesana (Providence, RI) point shot deflected off a stick to Vachon in the slot; a quick shot by the rookie forward beat goalie Andrew Henderson to knot the score at 1-1.
Just over a minute later, Josh McKechney (Calgary, AB) carried in off the rush and dropped the puck back to Jean, who cut to the bottom of the left circle and fired a sharp angle shot past Henderson to give Brooks its first lead of the night.
With time running out in the first, the Bandits potted two goals in the span of 24 seconds. First, Nic Hamre (Ottawa, ON) finished off a nifty three-way passing play on a 3-on-2 rush, collecting a cross crease pass from Tyler Carangelo (Hamden, CT) and one-timing it in to make it 3-1. On the very next shift, a Cesana point shot was tipped in by captain Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, AB) to give Brooks a 3-goal cushion heading into the first intermission.
The second period, despite featuring a 21-7 Bandit shot advantage, featured no extra goals, as the Bandits rang the post three times and were denied by Henderson on a bevy of other chances.
But the visitors pulled away in the third, and did so quickly. Foo scored his first of the game 1:29 into the final frame on a wrist shot from the left circle, and added his second less than four minutes later on a diving shot tapping home a rebound of a McKechney shot.
Less than two minutes after that, Hamre added his second of the night as he skated from the left half-wall of the Grizzlys zone to the high slot, then charged down the middle and fired a quick wrister past Henderson to end the Grizzly goaltender’s night.
At 9:33, however, Makar wowed the crowd, cutting by a defender at neutral ice and into the Olds zone, then to the right circle where, while off-balance, he fired a wrister off his back skate that found the top right corner over the glove of backup goalie Andrew Henderson to make it 8-0.
To cap off the scoring, Foo feed a stretch pass to Carangelo, who cut in on a breakaway and fired a shot post-and-in to notch the 9-1 final score.
The Bandits outshot the Grizzlys 58-28 in the game, while both teams were 0-for-4 on their respective power plays. Game 4 will go Tuesday night at the Olds Sportsplex at 7 o’clock, with the Bandits on the verge of eliminating Olds and moving on to the South division final with a win. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:45 PM on Real Country 105.7.