BROOKS, AB (January 9, 2016) – Former Drumheller defenceman Tristan Thompson (Canmore, AB) had two assists and the shootout game-winning goal, as the Brooks Bandits (31-6-2) came back from a 4-3 second period deficit to down the Drumheller Dragons (17-20-5) by a 5-4 shootout score in front of a season-high 1,717 fans at the Centennial Regional Arena on Saturday night.
With the win, and the Canmore Eagles’ win over Camrose, the Bandits extended their division lead in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) South to 5 points over the Kodiaks, with a game in hand. Spruce Grove’s loss to Bonnyville in a shootout also helped bring Brooks to within 3 points of first overall in the AJHL with a game in hand on the Saints.
It took the Bandits only 52 seconds to open the scoring when Thompson fired a perfect pass from his own blue line to Jared Cockrell (Byfield, MA) at the Drumheller line. Slipping behind the defence, Cockrell scored on a breakaway to make it 1-0.
It remained close until the final minutes of the first when Brooks scored twice in just 18 seconds. First, Jesse Pereira (Fort Erie, ON) fired a puck in from the right circle past goaltender Jonny Hogue to make it 2-0. Then it was another former Dragon in Ty Mappin, scoring on a long shot from the high slot for a 3-0 Bandit advantage after 20, and a 25-9 shot lead.
In the second, though the Bandits outshot Drumheller 16-7, the Dragons exploded for four goals. First, Ryan Chynoweth converted on a power play 3:17 in on a one-time shot from the left hashmarks, recording the first goal against Garret Hughson (Foremost, AB) since his Bandits debut last night in a 21-save shutout.
At 4:57, Bandit defenceman Cale Makar was slashed below the belt by Dragon defenceman Clint Filbrandt, who then cross checked the Bandit defenceman in the head, dropped his gloves, and repeatedly punched him. Filbrandt was assessed a two minute minor for roughing, and two minute minor for cross checking.
On the ensuing double minor power play, Landon Welykholowa (Calgary, AB) appeared to have scored on a rebound, but Jeff Malott (Waterdown, ON) was called for goaltender interference and a 4-on-4 sequence ensued.
The Dragons soon notched two goals in just over a minute. Levi Wunder made it 3-2 on a wraparound goal, before Braeden Salverda skated by the entire Bandit defence for a breakway and tied the game at 8:41.
Less than three minutes later, Matt Muzyka gave Drumheller the lead on a shot from the left faceoff circle.
The Bandits responded on a late power play when Dylan McCrory (Kirkland, PQ) fired a puck in from the left circle to make it 4-4.
In the third, the Bandits outshot Drumheller 24-12 but could not beat Hogue, who made several more spectacular stops.
In overtime, the Bandits kicked off the extra frame by finding Malott for an early breakway; but #11 was denied by the blocking arm of Hogue and saw his 16 game point streak come to an end. Later in the frame, Joe O’Connor (Hamden, CT) was called for goaltender interference and ejected from the game as it was the team’s second such penalty of the game.
The Bandits killed off the ensuing 4-on-3 power play and forced the game to a shootout.
Former Bandit Rhett Kingston opened the scoring in round one on a backhand, while Hogue denied Josh McKechney. Both Filbrandt and Mappin missed in round two; Evan Rochowiak rang the post in round 3, and needing to score, McCrory tucked a forehand around Hogue to send it past the mandatory 3 rounds.
Mike Falanga and Shane Bear (Calgary, AB) were both stopped in the fourth round, while both Isaac Schacher and Derek Lodermeier (Brooklyn Center, MN) scored in the fifth.
Ryan Chynoweth and Kyler Nachtigall were stopped by the goalies in round six, as was Muzyka to start off round seven, which set up Thompson for the winner on a quick snap shot over the blocker hand of Hogue to give the Bandits the dramatic win.
Brooks now prepares for a Wednesday night home game against the Olds Grizzlys that will be the team’s first-ever “Wild Wednesday” promotion, with tickets just $5, beer just $3, and multiple discounts at the concessions and merchandise room. Tickets are available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca, by phone at (403) 501-0122, or in person at the CRA.
Shoppers Drug Mart Player of the Game: #21 Kyler Nachtigall
Boston Pizza Hardest Working Bandit: #16 Jared Cockrell