BROOKS, AB (January 13, 2018) – Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, ON) scored with just 16 seconds left in overtime to give the Brooks Bandits (31-11-1) a thrilling win over the Camrose Kodiaks (14-16-11) on Saturday night at the Centennial Regional Arena.
Vachon’s winner was his second goal of the game, as he also opened the scoring in a game that saw the Kodiaks eliminate 1-0 and 2-1 Brooks advantages.
The Bandits’ fourth consecutive win moves them to 5 points back of the Okotoks Oilers for first in the AJHL South, but with Okotoks holding two games in hand.
A scoreless first period saw the Bandits outshoot the Kodias 9-5 to open the game. In the second, the Bandits extended their shot advantage to 16-6, and converted twice. First, Luke Bast (Red Deer, AB) fired a perfect cross-crease pass to Vachon at the left side of the net for a tap-in goal at 5:56. With time dwindling, Simon Boyko (Mississauga, ON) collected a puck at the left circle and fired a wrist shot glove side on goalie Luke Lush to double the Brooks lead with just 1:48 left in the frame.
But in the final minute, Camrose broke through when Brock Bremer fed Kyler Kupka at the right side of the Bandit net off the rush, with a quick backhand beating Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON) to make it a 2-1 game.
Brooks again outshot Camrose in the third, 11-8, but the Kodiaks were the only team to score when Carson Welke one-timed a shot in from the slot at 7:31. An early five minute power play for Brooks when Peter Kope was ejected and assessed a major penalty for a cross check to the head of Nic Hamre (Ottawa, ON) produced few scoring chances and several shorthanded opportunities for the perfect Kodiak penalty kill.
Camrose nearly scored the game-winner with just over two minutes left in regulation, when McKenzie Welke tripped up a Bandit defender at the Camrose blue line and deflected the puck down to the Brooks zone, racing in all alone for a potential breakaway. But Benson charged out of the crease and dove for a poke check, knocking the puck free and sending Welke flying through the air over the Bandit goalie. A trailing Kodiak fired for the now wide-open Bandit net but missed wide, preserving the tie.
In overtime, Vachon collected the puck in the right corner on a feed from Conner Jean (Oakland, MI), curled to the right circle, and spun and fired an almost no-look shot over the glove hand of Lush to send the Bandits streaming off the bench and onto the ice to mob the Bandit alternate captain.
Benson made 18 saves on 20 shots for the win while Lush made 35 saves on 38 shots in the loss. Brooks went 0 for 4 on the power play but a perfect 3 for 3 on the penalty kill as well.
The Bandits next head north to take on the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Friday night, with pre-game coverage starting at 7:15 PM on Real Country 105.7.