BROOKS, AB (December 15, 2017) – Nolan Thompson (Calgary, AB) had two goals, while captain Dennis Cesana (Providence, RI) scored a vital empty netter in the final minute, as the Brooks Bandits (23-10-1) beat the visiting Bonnyville Pontiacs (11-16-7) by a 3-2 score at the Centennial Regional Arena on Friday night.
The win spoiled an otherwise sensational performance by Bonnyville goaltender Sandro Silvestre, who stopped 45 of the 47 Bandit shots he faced. Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON) stopped 25 of 27 for his league-leading 23rd win of the year.
Thompson’s first came just 3:27 into the game. Tyler Carangelo (Hamden, CT) intercepted a Bonnyville pass at the Pontiac blue line, found Carter Wolski (Sexsmith, AB) at the right circle, and the Bandit defenceman fired a perfect pass across for a backdoor one-timer from Thompson.
In the second, the Bandits outshot the Pontiacs 18-7 but Bonnyville was the only team to score, when a Bobby Young shot off the rush ricocheted off a Bandit defenceman’s skate and past Benson to tie the game with just over a minute left.
The Bandits broke the deadlock 6:48 into the third; just after Simon Boyko (Mississauga, ON) was denied on a point blank one-timer, he collected the puck behind the Pontiac net and backhanded it through the crease to Thompson, who slid a backhand one-timer past Silvestre to make it a 2-1 game.
With time ticking down, Cesana flipped a high bouncing puck from his own goal line that rolled on edge off the right post of the Pontiac net and in to make it a 3-1 game. Kirby Proctor scored from the top of the crease with 3 seconds left, but it was as close as Bonnyville would get.
The Bandits next host Fort McMurray on Saturday night in their final game before the Christmas break, with Ugly Christmas Sweater Night taking centre stage at the CRA. The team will be auctioning off its special one-time jerseys to fans on the concourse, with puck drop scheduled for 7 PM and tickets available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.