ESTEVAN, SK (May 5, 2016) – The Brooks Bandits (4-0) became the first team in the history of the Western Canada Cup to start with an undefeated round robin record, downing the host Estevan Bruins (0-4) by a 6-4 final score on Thursday night at Affinity Place.
The game did not impact the round robin standings, as the Bandits had already clinched first and a spot in Saturday’s championship game, while the Bruins could not finish in the top four to reach the playoff round.
As a result, the Bandits scratched goaltender Garret Hughson (Foremost, AB), captain Derek Lodermeier (Brooklyn Center, MN), alternate captain Jeff Malott (Waterdown, ON), leading goal scorer Jared Cockrell (Byfield, MA), defencemen Shane Bear (Calgary, AB) and Charlie Marchand (Calgary, AB), as well as rookie forward Parker Foo (Edmonton, AB).
In their stead, the Bandits dressed all scratched players that had been with them at the tournament, and brought in Calgary Midget AAA Flames affiliates Ian Dubourdieu (Calgary, AB) on defence and Markus Boguslavsky (Calgary, AB) at forward.
The high-scoring game began with a low-scoring first period, as the only goal came when a Jesse Baird (Brampton, ON) point shot produced a rebound for rookie Leif Mattson (Stonewall, MB) to jam into the Estevan net to make it a 1-0 game, as the 1999-born forward recorded his first Junior A goal.
In the second, an opening minute breakaway save by Bandits goalie Josh Davies (Guelph, ON) set the stage for Ty Mappin (Big Valley, AB) to center a pass from the right corner to Landon Welykholowa (Calgary, AB) in the slot, whose close-range wrister beat Bruins goalie Daniel Wapple to make it 2-0.
But despite the hot start for the AJHL champions, the Bruins quickly responded with four goals before the period was out.
First, Darcy DeRoose scored twice in the span of less than four minutes to tie the game, while a Tyson Predinchuk shot at the 11:12 mark was followed up by a Keaton Longpre wrister from the right circle at 12:42 to make it a 4-2 Estevan advantage after 40 minutes.
After a dominant first, outshooting Estevan 16-7, the Bandits found themselves outshot 11-8 in the second. But the third saw the Bandits outshoot the host team 18-9 and score four consecutive goals of their own.
Just 19 seconds into the third, a Jesse Pereira (Fort Erie, ON) shot from the left circle produced a rebound in the crease that Baird jammed home to pull the Bandits within one. Rookie Josh McKechney (Calgary, AB) wired in a power play wrist shot from the left circle to tie the game at 8:19, while Logan Mick (Vernon, BC) scored the eventual game-winning goal on a backhand between the pads of Wapple from the slot on a perfect setup from the right corner by Dylan McCrory (Kirkland, PQ).
Finally, Pereira scored on a breakaway on an empty Estevan net with three seconds left to cap off the scoring and send the Bandits to championship Saturday unscathed in their regional record.
The Bandits will take on the BCHL champion West Kelowna Warriors (3-1) at 7:00 PM on Saturday in an attempt to capture their first-ever Western Canada Cup, with pre-game coverage starting at 6:30 PM on Q105.7.