The Brooks Bandits (43-7-2) pulled away in a deadlocked third period on a Derek Lodermeier (Brooklyn Center, MN) game-winning goal, downing the Whitecourt Wolverines on the road 4-2 and clinching first place in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) South division. With that win, the Bandits are assured of a first round bye in the upcoming playoffs, and remain 3 points behind Spruce Grove for first overall in the AJHL with two games in hand.
The Bandits, coming off a 12-0 win in Grande Prairie the night before, opened the scoring at the 6:33 mark when Dylan McCrory (Kirkland, PQ) cut in front of the Whitecourt net and tucked a backhander inside the left post of the Whitecourt net, beating goaltender Garrett Mason to make it 1-0.
Just over two minutes later, Bandit leading goal scorer Jared Cockrell sped into the Whitecourt slot and fired a wrist shot past Mason for his team-leading 32nd goal of the season, to make it a 2-0 game.
But the Wolverines responded before the period was out, when a Bryson Traptow shot from the right-wing faceoff circle beat Garret Hughson (Foremost, AB) to cut the deficit in half. The Bandits outshot the Wolverines 10-7 in the first.
In the second, although the Bandits outshot Whitecourt 12-9, the Wolverines tallied the only goal when a misplay at the side of the Bandit net led to an own goal and a 2-2 tie game.
In the third, however, the Bandits retook control. First, just over halfway through the period, Jeff Malott (Waterdown, ON) drove to the side of the Whitecourt net and was tripped up, nonetheless getting a shot on Mason that produced a rebound. Lodermeier pounced on the loose puck and tucked it into the net for a dramatic go-ahead goal.
The Wolverines continued to put pressure on late in the game, but a clearing pass from their own zone came right to the stick of Shane Bear at the centre ice circle, who one-timed it into an empty Whitecourt net for a 4-2 final score. The Bandits outshot Whitecourt 11-10 in the third and 33-26 in the game, with both teams going 0 for 3 on their respective power plays.