BROOKS, AB (March 23, 2018) – Despite outshooting the visiting Dragons 40-27, the Brooks Bandits were stymied by 39 saves from Hunter Virostek and couldn’t wrap up their AJHL South Semifinal series on Friday night, falling 3-1 to Drumheller in front of a postseason-high crowd of 1,633 at the Centennial Regional Arena.
The Bandits never led in the game, and now will travel back to Drumheller on Sunday night for Game 6, still leading the series 3 games to 2.
An 0-for-7 power play was the story of the night for Brooks, as the team received 3 of the first 4 power plays awarded in the game in the first period, but couldn’t convert, outshooting Drumheller 15-8 in the opening frame.
Just over halfway through the 2nd, Nic Hamre (Ottawa, ON) was called for a delay of game penalty while the Bandits were lining up for a faceoff, and seven seconds later Drumheller scored on a left circle shot by Brady Risk. It was part of four consecutive penalty kills the Bandits were sent to in the period.
In the third, Brooks thought they had tied the game when Luke Bast (Red Deer, AB) shot a puck past Virostek from the right circle. But the puck actually hit the left post, then the right post, and popped out. Though the goal light went on, the referee signalled no goal and Drumheller maintained its lead.
Later in the third, Drumheller converted on their eighth and final power play of the game when Slater Dykema shot a puck in from the top of the crease to complete a four-pass play in the Bandits zone.
Brooks got one back at the 14:11 mark when Nic Hamre broke Virostek’s shutout bid with a wrist shot from the bottom of the right circle. But with the net empty, the Bandits immediately turned the puck over to Nate Keeley in the Drumheller zone, and the sophomore Dragon jammed the puck down to the Bandits zone, won a race to it, and tucked into the open cage to seal the 3-1 final score.
Brooks went 0 for 7 on the power play while Drumheller was 2 for 8. It was the first time this season that Drumheller had won in Brooks. Virostek stopped 39 of 40 Bandit shots for the win while Mitch Benson lost for just the second time this postseason after saving 24 of 26 Drumheller shots.
Game 6 is scheduled for 7 PM Sunday night at the Drumheller Memorial Arena, with extended pre-game coverage starting at 6:30 PM on Real Country 105.7.