BROOKS, AB (March 21, 2016) – The Brooks Bandits put the Canmore Eagles on the verge of elimination on Monday night, taking down their playoff opponents 6-2 at the Canmore Recreation Centre to take a 3 games to none lead in their best-of-7 Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) South division semi-final series.
The Bandits allowed the first goal, but scored six consecutive goals off of the sticks of six different goal scorers to notch another win, outshooting their opponents 54-21 in the process.
Canmore began the game with the first three power plays, converting on the second when Brett Radford jammed a rebound past Garret Hughson (Foremost, AB) for the first Canmore goal of the series. It ended Hughson’s playoff-opening shutout streak at 124 minutes and 59 seconds.
At one point, the Eagles had outshot the Bandits 8-4 to open the game, as Brooks did not get its first shot on goal until 7 minutes into the game. However, after that point, the Bandits outshot the Eagles 10-1, and converted twice.
First, captain Derek Lodermeier (Brooklyn Center, MN) shot home a rebound at the right side of the Canmore net to make it 1-1 at the 13:55 mark, and just under three minutes later, on the Bandits’ first power play of the game, a Joe O’Connor (Hamden, CT) point shot was blocked, but the Bandit defenceman chased down the loose puck in the slot himself and fired a top shelf shot past goaltender Ryan Bontorin for the go-ahead goal.
In the second period, the Bandits dominated puck possession, outshooting the Eagles 22-4. But only one shot beat Bontorin; as Parker Foo (Edmonton, AB) fired a perfect centering pass from the right-wing corner to a waiting Tristan Thompson (Canmore, AB) in the slot. The Bandit defenceman wired a quick wrister past Bontorin for the eventual game-winning goal.
The Bandits would pull away in the third, however. Dylan McCrory (Kirkland, PQ) one-timed in a puck from the right side of the Canmore net along the goal line for his third goal of the series and a 4-1 lead. Less than a minute after that, Thompson recorded his second point when his shot from the blue line was tipped in by Jesse Pereira (Fort Erie, ON). Then, with just under three minutes left, Josh McKechney (Calgary, AB) tapped in a rebound goal set up by a Jared Cockrell (Byfield, MA) shot to make it 6-1.
Canmore responded late, with 1:05 left, when Nolan Kurylo tapped in a puck from the top of the crease to make it 6-2. Hughson ended the night with 19 saves on 21 shots, while Bontorin stopped 48 of 54.
The two teams return to action Tuesday night for what could be the final game of the series if the Bandits can finish it off and punch their ticket to the AJHL South Division final. Puck drop at the Canmore Recreation Centre is at 7:00 PM with pre-game coverage on the Bandits’ radio home, Q105.7, beginning at 6:45.