BROOKS, AB (September 16, 2017) – The Brooks Bandits (0-2) dropped their home opener for the second straight year to their divisional rivals, the Okotoks Oilers (2-0) on Saturday night by a 3-1 score, as the Oilers completed the sweep of their season-opening home and home series, following up a 4-2 win the night before.
A crowd of 1,406 at the Centennial Regional Arena in Brooks was the best home opener crowd for the Bandits since 2013, the year the team raised its RBC Cup championship banner. But Jake Theis (Chanhassen, MN) provided the only major burst of noise from the assembled fans with his goal in the second period.
A scoreless first period saw the Bandits outshoot Okotoks 9-4, but backup goalie Ben Howard performed admirable in the absence of star tender Riley Morris for Okotoks.
Two close calls for the Bandits failed to open the scoring; the first a slap shot from the slot by Parker Huebner (Leduc, AB) that rang the right post, and the second a stuff attempt by Conner Jean (Oakland, MI) at the left side of the Oiler net that stuck under the pad of Howard, with the officials conferring with the goal judge before upholding the no goal call.
Austin Wong opened the scoring for the Oilers at 13:24 of the second on an Okotoks odd-man rush, toe-dragging his way around a Bandit defender and firing a top-left corner shot past Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON) to make it 1-0.
The Bandits equalized at 17:26 when Nic Hamre (Ottawa, ON) fired a pass from the left halfwall to a waiting Theis at the right side of the net. His one-timer shot snuck between Howard’s pads to even the score.
But less than a minute later, defenceman Kylor Wall slapped a puck from the blue line that caught a Bandit defender’s skate and ricocheted past Benson for a 2-1 Okotoks lead. Despite doubling the Oilers in shots 14-7 in the second, the Bandits entered the intermission with another deficit.
The only goal of the third period came at 12:15 with Nick Blankenburg speeding by two Bandit defenders and sneaking a shot around Benson and in from the right side of the net for a 3-1 advantage.
The Bandits went 0 for 4 on the power play and a perfect 2 for 2 on the penalty kill, outshooting the Oilers 32-17 in the loss.
The team next hosts the Calgary Mustangs for a Friday night affair at the CRA, where the team’s all-time leader in games played Anthony Paskaruk will be inducted into the team’s Smith Group Wall of Fame. Tickets are available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.
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