BROOKS, AB – Parker Foo (Edmonton, AB) had two goals, while Garret Hughson (Foremost, AB) became just the tenth goaltender in Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) history to record three post-season shutouts in one year, as the Brooks Bandits punched their ticket to the AJHL South Division Final with a 5-0 win in Canmore on Tuesday night, wrapping up their best-of-seven series in four games.
It will be the fifth consecutive season in which the Bandits have at least reached the divisional final.
A penalty-filled first period saw the Bandits open the scoring at the 8:51 mark on a five-on-three man advantage, when regular season leading goal scorer Jared Cockrell (Byfield, MA) charged in from the high slot and fired a shot past goaltender Ryan Bontorin for his first goal of the playoffs and the eventual game-winner.
In the final minute of the first, Parker Foo (Edmonton, AB) charged to a loose puck at the left side of the Canmore net and snuck a quick shot past Bontorin to double the Bandit lead, in a period in which they outshot the Eagles 14-8.
The shot margin would be even wider in the second, at 16-6 for Brooks, but the only goal came once again off the stick of Foo. After Canmore defenceman Brett Schimmel fanned on a shot at the blue line on the Eagle power play, Foo chased down the puck, carried in on a breakaway, and slid a backhand shot past Bontorin for a 3-0 Brooks advantage.
In the third, the Bandits converted twice more on power play opportunities; the first a Derek Lodermeier (Brooklyn Center, MN) shot from close range, and the second an Austin Wright (Niagara Falls, ON) one-timer from the right side of the net with just 20 seconds left in the game. The Lodermeier goal solidified the Bandits’ captain’s status as the series’ leading scorer, with 8 points (2 goals, 6 assists) in 4 games.
The Bandits finished the night 3 for 10 on the power play and a perfect 9 for 9 on the penalty kill.
The team will now enjoy more than a week off before the start of the South final, which is tentatively scheduled to begin with games on Friday, April 1st and Saturday, April 2nd. As the Bandits are guaranteed home ice advantage in this round, those first two games would be at the Centennial Regional Arena. Official word on game times and ticket availability will be disseminated through the Bandits’ official website, BrooksBandits.ca.
The Bandits will take on the winner of the other South division semi-final between the Camrose Kodiaks and Okotoks Oilers, in which Camrose currently holds a three games to none lead in the best of seven series, with game four scheduled for Thursday night in Okotoks.