BROOKS, AB (September 8, 2015) – Connor Chambers finished a 2-on-1 rush less than a minute into overtime, as the Brooks Bandits (3-1-1-2) fell by a 5-4 margin to the visiting Okotoks Oilers (4-2) on Tuesday night in their final preseason game of 2015 at the Centennial Regional Arena.
The Bandits trailed 3-1 midway through the game but fought back to tie it despite the absences of veterans like forward Derek Lodermeier and defenceman Shane Bear.
Okotoks opened the scoring at the 13:52 mark when Trey Degraaf collected a turnover in front of the Bandits net and wrapped the puck around a sprawling Andrew Tucci (Toronto, ON). But less than a minute later, the Bandits responded with an Austin Wright (Niagara Falls, ON) wrist shot on a 2-on-1 rush. The teams entered the first intermission deadlocked despite Brooks more than doubling the Oilers in shots 13-6.
Early in the second, both Wright and Nolan Thompson earned early trips to the showers with a spirited fight inside the Oilers zone. Okotoks then began to pull away, with Degraaf earning his second goal on a 4-on-3 power play, and Colin O’Neill tapping in a breakaway rebound to make it 3-1.
The Bandits again responded; on a 2-on-1 rush, Hayden Ursulak (Calgary, AB) found Cale Makar (Calgary, AB) for a one-timer to pull the home side within one. With 4 minutes left in the middle frame, Jeff Malott (Waterdown, ON) was denied on a breakaway, but Jared Cockrell (Byfield, MA) cleaned up the rebound and potted it into the Oilers net to make it 3-3.
Late in the period, however, the Oilers converted on another power play when Jake Dube fired through a screen from the blue line, beating Tucci to make it 4-3.
Jesse Pereira (Fort Erie, ON) was the only player to score in the third, after a point shot was stopped through traffic, he collected the rebound and fired a wrist shot short side to knot the game up at 4-4, sending it to overtime.
But it was Chambers in the extra frame taking a pass across from O’Neill and lifting a high shot over Tucci to give the Oilers the pre-season closing win.
“It was more an evaluation night for us,” said Bandits head coach and general manager Ryan Papaioannou. “We knew it was going to be a little tough sledding at times, just with guys that are unfamiliar with each other.”
“All in all, it was good. The game served the purpose we needed it to do.”
The Bandits now prepare for a regular season-opening home-and-home series with the Canmore Eagles starting Friday night at the Canmore Recreation Centre at 7:00 PM.
“We’ll be practicing, starting to talk about Canmore, reviewing some of their film from last year with the new guys,” said Papaioannou. “For us, it’s just about looking forward to Friday night and then obviously we’re excited about Saturday too.”
Saturday will see the first ever Brooks Minor Hockey Bandits Home Opener, presented by Romer Environmental, against Canmore at 7:00 PM. The game will serve as a significant fundraiser for BMH, and the team will also host a free tailgate party outside the Centennial Regional Arena in the parking lot beginning at 5:00 PM and running until 6:30 PM. Tickets are available at tickets.brooksbandits.ca, by phone at (403) 501-0122, and in person at the Bandits office in the CRA.