BROOKS, AB (April 1, 2017) – The Brooks Bandits saw two one-goal leads slip away Saturday night, as two late third period penalties for alleged diving and net-dislodging led to an Okotoks power-play game-tying goal, sending Game 2 of the AJHL South Final to overtime where Jordan Xavier (Calgary, AB) scored on a rebound to give the Oilers the dramatic win.
The win ties the South Final at 1 game apiece as the setting shifts to Okotoks for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday nights.
The Bandits were outshot 35-34 in the game; only the fourth time all season the Bandits have been outshot and the first time they’ve lost when being outshot.
A scoreless first period saw the Bandits outshoot Okotoks 11-6, with both teams awarded two power plays but both penalty kills getting off to perfect starts.
The teams traded goals in the second; the first a Joe O’Connor (Hamden, CT) point shot set up by Nathan Plessis (Salmon Arm, B.C.) at the 8:52 mark that beat goalie Riley Morris from long range. But the Oilers tied it at 13:15 when Riley Mathies drove to the right side of the Oiler net; a second Oiler entered the crease prior to the puck, getting a skate in the way of the right pad of Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON). Mathies fired a sharp angle backhander perfectly through the immobilized Bandit goalie to knot the game at 1-1, though Mathies was credited with neither the goal nor an assist on the play.
In the third, Brooks reclaimed the lead when Nick Prkusic fired home a perfectly placed shot from the left circle on the power play. But Brooks, outshot 14-10 by the Oilers in the period, found itself in penalty trouble late in the frame. First, Cale Makar (Calgary, AB) carried a puck through neutral ice, and had the stick of an Oiler caught under his right arm from behind. Makar broke forward and continued to play the puck, but the play was whistled down with Makar assessed a minor for diving.
Just over 90 seconds later, with the Bandits on the penalty kill, an Oiler shot was calmly blocked by Ty Mappin (Big Valley, AB) and controlled behind the Bandit net as the Brooks alternate captain prepared for a clear. But defenceman Kord Pankewicz (Drayton Valley, AB), tied up with an Oiler forechecker, bumped the crossbar with his right elbow. He was ruled to have intentionally dislodged the net and assessed a delay of game penalty, giving Okotoks a 5-on-3.
The Bandits killed off the remainder of Makar’s penalty, but as the situation switched to a 5-on-4, a Jordan Davies backhander from the right circle produced a rebound that Trey Degraaf hammered in from the left circle to knot the game up at 2-2 with 91 seconds left in regulation.
As the game headed to overtime, the Bandits received the only power play of the extra frame but were once again stymied by Morris’ goaltending and the Oilers penalty kill. Soon thereafter, a Nolan Thompson point shot from the middle of the Bandit blue line was saved by Benson, but the rebound was quickly jammed home by Xavier at the top of the crease to send the Oilers streaming off the bench with the massive 3-2 win.
Morris made 32 saves on 34 shots in the win while Benson stopped 32 of 35. Okotoks was 1 for 6 on its power play while the Bandits were 1 for 4.
Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for 7:00 PM Monday and Tuesday in Okotoks with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:45 PM on Real Country 105.7.