BROOKS, AB (March 31, 2017) – The Brooks Bandits tallied nine goals in front of a season-high 1,923 fans, the largest crowd at the Centennial Regional Arena in nearly two full years, taking a 1 game to none series lead in the best of seven league semi-final with a 9-2 victory over the Okotoks Oilers on Friday night.
Parker Foo (Edmonton, AB) had two goals and an assist, while linemate Josh McKechney (Calgary, AB) had one goal and three assists, as the two have both now recorded 14 points each in just 5 playoff games.
A Cale Makar (Calgary, AB) shot from the right half boards 3:16 into the game opened the scoring, with Ty Mappin doubling the lead at 17:24, jamming a puck in from the left side of the Okotoks net off a backdoor pass from Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, AB) at the right circle. Brooks outshot the Oilers 14-4 in the first.
In the second, the Oilers cut the deficit in half at 3:07 when Jordie Lawson tipped a Carson Beers point shot past Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON). But the Bandits responded with three straight goals; a Foo slapshot goal from the bottom of the right circle, a Nathan Plessis (Salmon Arm, B.C.) deflection off a scramble in front of the net, and a Prkusic blast from the blue line on the power play to make it 5-1.
Okotoks responded with another tipped point shot at 15:46 as Tanner Laderoute deflected a Jacob Bernard-Docker shot; but the Bandits replied less than a minute later on the power play as Foo cut to the left side of the Okotoks net and flipped a close range backhander short side on Riley Morris to make it 6-2 after 2.
In the third, the Bandits added two more; the first a McKechney wrister from the right circle that chased Morris from the net, and the second a Nic Hamre (Ottawa, ON) power play goal as the rookie chased down his own rebound and deposited a puck home from the top of the crease.
But with Okotoks on a late power play, trailing by 6, the Oilers pulled their goalie for an extra attacker. The Bandits responded with McKechney winning a neutral zone battle and putting a puck to Plessis, who fired it into the yawning cage from the neutral zone with 15 seconds left to give Brooks the 9-2 final score and send the near-capacity crowd home with free cheeseburgers from Wendy’s due to the last minute goal.
Benson stopped 23 of 25 Oiler shots for his 5th consecutive playoff win.
The teams will reconvene Saturday night in Brooks for Game 2 of the series at 7:00 PM. Tickets are available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.