PENTICTON, B.C. (April 29, 2017) – The Brooks Bandits opened the WCC with a comeback win, scoring five consecutive goals to rebound from a 1-0 first period deficit and downing the BCHL representative Chilliwack Chiefs 5-2 to begin the 2017 Western Canada Cup.
The Bandits outshot Chilliwack 31-12 through the opening 40 minutes of play, and 36-24 in the game, moving their round robin record to 1-0.
Despite a 14-5 shot advantage for the Bandits in the opening period, Chilliwack had the only goal when a turnover at neutral ice led to an odd man rush for the Chiefs. A pad save by Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON) on the initial shot led to a rebound tap-in goal for Anthony Vincent, giving Chilliwack its first goal on just its second shot of the game.
The Bandits broke things open in the second, however, outshooting the Chiefs 17-7 and finally being rewarded for their dominant puck possession. First, Cale Makar (Calgary, AB) accepted a pass from Josh McKechney (Calgary, AB), snuck in to the low slot and fired a low shot past Chief goalie Matt Sinclair to knot the game at 1-1.
Less than two minutes later, a rebound opportunity in front of the Chief net was whacked in on a diving shot by rookie forward Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, ON), giving Brooks its first lead of the afternoon and one it would not relinquish. With Brooks on a power play in the final minute of the second, a Makar point shot deflected to the slot, where Parker Foo (Edmonton, AB) jammed it backdoor to McKechney at the side of the net; his quick shot beat Sinclair to give Brooks the 3-1 advantage heading into the third.
In the final frame, the Bandits extended the lead at 4:03 when Joe O’Connor (Hamden, CT) flung a pass from the left circle to a waiting Foo at the right side, who one-timed the puck in to make it 4-1. The Chiefs pulled goalie Sinclair, only to see the score move to 5-1 on the ensuing shift when Oliver Chau (Oakville, ON) centered from the left corner to captain Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, AB) at the top of the crease for a tip-in goal.
Connor McCarthy scored on a power play point shot with 5:05 left to pull Chilliwack within 3, but it was as close as the nominal home team would get, as the Bandits withstood late pressure with an empty Chief net and extra attacker, and held on for the 5-2 victory.
Benson made 22 saves on 24 shots for the win in his WCC debut.
The Bandits will take on the host Penticton Vees on Sunday night at 8:00 PM Mountain time, with the host team to come off its tournament opener tonight against the Saskatchewan champion Battlefords North Stars. Pre-game coverage for Bandits/Vees begins at 7:30 PM Mountain on Real Country 105.7.
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