SPRUCE GROVE, AB – Brandon Biro scored 3:34 into double overtime as the Spruce Grove Saints tied the Alberta Junior Hockey League final at one game apiece, with a 3-2 victory over the Brooks Bandits in Spruce Grove on Saturday night.
The Bandits battled back from a 2-1 deficit to force the extra frame and peppered Saints goalie Matthew Murray in the first overtime period, but were unable to seal the deal as they had the night before in a 3-2 Game 1 win.
Brooks opened the scoring at the 6:17 mark of the first, becoming the first team this post-season to score a power play goal on the Saints, when Jeff Malott (Waterdown, ON) won a battle in the right corner and jammed the puck to Josh McKechney (Calgary, AB) at the side of the Saints net, whose quick centering pass found captain Derek Lodermeier (Brooklyn Center, MN) in the slot for a quick shot that ricocheted off of a Saint defenceman’s stick and into the net.
But the Saints tied the game on a power play goal of their own with just 2:22 to go in the second period, when Nicolas Correale one-timed in a shot from the bottom of the left faceoff circle.
In the third, the Saints took their first lead of the series 6:11 in, when captain Tyler Busch won a faceoff to Dexter McLeod at the point, whose quick long point shot through a screen hit the top left corner of the Saints net.
But the Bandits wouldn’t be denied, as Jesse Baird (Brampton, ON) fired a point shot of his own through a screen with just 2:20 to go in regulation to tie the game and send it to overtime.
In the first extra frame, the Bandits were denied by Murray on a plethora of golden opportunities, from a Ty Mappin (Big Valley, AB) backdoor play, to a Dylan McCrory (Kirkland, PQ) chance in the slot, to a Cale Makar (Calgary, AB) wrister from the high slot that nearly snuck in over Murray’s right shoulder.
But the Saints finally finished at 3:34 of the second overtime frame when Brandon Biro won a battle in the left corner, cut out in front of the Bandits net and jammed a point blank shot past Garret Hughson (Foremost, AB) for the dramatic game-winner.
The series now shifts to Brooks for Games 3 and 4 at the Centennial Regional Arena on Monday and Tuesday nights. Puck drop for both games is scheduled for 7:00 PM with tickets available for purchase online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.