OLDS, AB (November 28, 2015) – The Brooks Bandits (19-6-2) scored four times in the second period, rebounding from a 1-0 deficit to defeat the Olds Grizzlys (10-14-2) by a 6-2 final score at the Olds Sports Complex on Saturday night.
With the win, the Bandits opened up a three-point lead on the Camrose Kodiaks for first place in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) South division.
“I thought Olds outworked us in the first; I thought they had a better intensity than we did,” said Bandits head coach and general manager Ryan Papaioannou. “I thought in the second and third, our details got a lot better, our work ethic ramped up, and then obviously I think the game changed for us.”
Olds held a 1-0 lead after the first period on a Chase Olsen goal at the 9:22 mark when the Grizzlys’ leading scorer poked a puck home on a scramble at the front of the Bandits net. A Wyatt Noskey breakaway late in the period nearly doubled the Olds lead, but Bandit goaltender Josh Davies (Guelph, ON) made a momentum-shifting save to keep it a 1-goal game.
“The effect was huge,” said Papaioannou of the save by Davies. “If not for that, we’re down 2-0, and who knows how the game changes from there. For Josh himself, obviously after last night we singled him out, he comes back with a big response. He plays well, but that save right there on the breakaway is huge; it probably is the difference in the first period.”
Despite facing the early deficit, the Bandits outshot the Grizzlys 20-9 in the first period.
In the second, Taylor Karel (Eagan, MN) tied the game just 2:10 in on a backhand shot from the slot for his second goal as a Bandit. Will Conley (Strathmore, AB) extended the lead to 2-1 just over 4 minutes later showing great patience on a pass to him in the slot and wiring a shot past Grizzly goalie Kurtis Chapman to make it 2-1.
The eventual game-winning goal came off the stick of sophomore forward Hayden Ursulak (Calgary, AB) only 50 seconds after Conley’s goal. Chase Olsen scored his second of the game just over a minute after the Ursulak marker, but the Bandits scored three times unanaswered after that.
First, Derek Lodermeier scored on a breakaway with just over half of the second period finished; Chapman left the game with an apparent injury after that, and was replaced by Ben Giesbrecht, who didn’t allow any goals in the remainder of the second. The Bandits outshot Olds 18-6 in the middle frame.
In the third, the Bandits again outshot Olds 16-6 and added two more goals. First, Dylan McCrory followed up his hat trick at home last night with a spinning backhand shot from top of the crease to make it 5-2, and Shane Bear capped it off with a point shot through a screen with 1:02 left to finish off the scoring.
“Scotty [Cunningham] and I talked right after the game about the guys that we singled out in the room after the game: Foo, Conley, Ursulak, the guys that had big nights,” said Papaioannou of his younger contributors tonight. “Karel, two nights in a row he’s an impact in the game, and some of those guys that don’t get the credit all the time were really good players for us.”
The Bandits have now won all three games against Olds so far this season, outscoring the Grizzlys 18-4 in those three games. Both teams went 0 for 3 on their respective power plays tonight.
Brooks will hit the road again on Thursday night to take on the Okotoks Oilers, before returning home for games against the defending league champion Spruce Grove Saints on Friday, and the Whitecourt Wolverines on Teddy Bear Toss night on Saturday. All three games begin at 7:00 PM with pre-game coverage starting at 6:45 on Q105.7. Tickets for the two home games, beginning with Friday’s rematch of the 2015 AJHL Final, are on sale online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca, by phone at (403) 501-0122, or in person at the Centennial Regional Arena.