May 20, 2023 - 2023 Centennial Cup Semi Finals between Brooks Bandits and Ottawa Jr Senators in Portage la Prairie, MB. Ottawa would win the game 4-2 (EN) (Photo by Chad Goddard)

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, MB – The Brooks Bandits will play in their fifth National Championship game on Sunday following a 3-0 shutout of the Ottawa Jr Senators on Saturday at Stride Place.

Captain Dario Beljo (Sudbury, ON) broke a scoreless 3rd period tie in his first game of the Centennial Cup after not playing since Game of the AJHL Final. He scored twice and earned Player of the Game honours as Ethan Barwick (St. Albert, AB) made 22 saves for his second shutout of the tournament.

The Bandits have now qualified for the National Championship game five times; 2013, 2017, 2019, 2022 and 2023.

For the first time in this tournament, the Bandits were held scoreless in the 1st period, despite holding Ottawa to just one shot. The Brooks penalty kill was perfect again, going 5/5.

Beljo’s goal came at 2:31 of the 3rd period, as he shot a forehand shot from the right circle into the bottom left corner of Rorke Applebee’s net to make it 1-0 Brooks. Then with 1:49 left and the Ottawa net empty, Beljo negated a delayed Senators penalty with an empty net goal to make it 2-0. For good measure, forward Aiden Fink (Calgary, AB) scored an empty net goal at 19:41 to seal the 3-0 win.

Brooks outshot Ottawa 41-22.

The Bandits will face the winner of the other National Semifinal between the Battlefords North Stars and Portage Terriers, which goes Saturday night at 7:30 pm (CST).

Sunday’s Championship game will be live on TSN as well, there will be a radio broadcast on Real Country 105.7 FM and with Nathan Crosby and Ken Fleury.