BROOKS, AB (April 1, 2016) – Joe O’Connor (Hamden, CT) had a goal and an assist, while Garret Hughson (Foremost, AB) stopped 28 of 29 shots, as the Brooks Bandits took Game 1 of their best of seven Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) South Final series over the Camrose Kodiaks by a 4-1 final score in front of 1,566 fans at the Centennial Regional Arena on Friday night.
The Bandits outshot Camrose 48-29 in the game, including a dominant 17-5 margin in the first that led to only a single goal. Catching the Kodiaks on a change, O’Connor charged into the Camrose slot and fired a shot that goaltender Patrick Gora caught with his left pad. But the rebound popped to Logan Mick (Vernon, B.C.) in the slot, who one timed the puck in for the opening goal.
In the second, the Kodiaks had a chance to tie when Paul Lovsin was awarded a penalty shot after being pushed down on a breakaway. But Lovsin’s quick wrister from the right hashmarks was snagged by Hughson’s glove to keep it a 1-0 Bandits lead.
A little over two minutes after that save, Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, AB) battled his way out in front from the right side of the Kodiaks net and stuffed a point blank shot past Gora to give the Bandits a 2-0 lead. Less than three minutes after that, Dylan McCrory (Kirkland, PQ) curled his way from the left boards to the Kodiaks’ slot, then made a last second move to the right hashmarks and fired a quick wrister past Gora to make it 3-0 Brooks.
Late in the second, the Bandits appeared to have made it 4-0 when a Landon Welykholowa shot was stopped by a sprawling Gora, but the puck lay in the crease for O’Connor to tap in for an easy goal. But the referee blew his whistle early, waving off the eventual goal and keeping it just 3-0 heading into the second intermission.
In the third, the Kodiaks finally got on the board at the 3:30 mark when Ryan Rebelato fired a puck in from the slot, perfectly picking the top-right corner to spoil Hughson’s bid for a fourth shutout.
But it was as close as the Kodiaks would get. At the 11:24 mark, on the Bandits’ fourth power play, Derek Lodermeier (Brooklyn Center, MN) won the opening faceoff to Josh McKechney (Calgary, AB), who swept the puck to O’Connor at the point for a quick slap shot that beat Gora through a screen provided by Jeff Malott (Waterdown, ON) to make it 4-1.
The two teams will meet again Saturday night for Game 2, once against in Brooks at the CRA beginning at 7 PM. Tickets are available at tickets.brooksbandits.ca, with the official broadcast on Q105.7 beginning at 6:45.
Shoppers Drug Mart Player of the Game: #1 Garret Hughson
Boston Pizza Hardest Working Bandit: #16 Jared Cockrell