BROOKS, AB (February 8, 2020) – Randy Hernández (Miami, FL) tallied three points to move into second in the league scoring race, as the Brooks Bandits (42-9-1) downed the visiting Whitecourt Wolverines 4-3 on Saturday night at the Centennial Regional Arena to notch their second straight win.
The Bandits remain 3 points back of first-place Okotoks in the AJHL South with 6 games remaining in the 2019-20 regular season.
The game marked the debut of newly-acquired overage defenceman Jake Kustra (Lethbridge, AB), whose signing by the team had been announced earlier in the day.
An inauspicious start for the Bandits saw Whitecourt take an early two-goal lead; the first on a misplay behind the net benefitting Brayden Labant, who tucked the puck into an open Bandit net to make it 1-0 just 73 seconds into the game. At the 4:58 mark, a Cassidy Bowes shot from the slot was stopped by Pierce Charleson (Aurora, ON), but Zach Cox jammed home the rebound to give Whitecourt a 2-0 advantage.
With Whitecourt pressing for a 3-0 lead, Charleson made the save of the night when Ryan Wallz fed a pass from the top of the right circle to a waiting Ethan Green at the left side of the Bandit net. His one-timer was denied by Charleson’s sprawling right pad stop to keep the deficit at just two.
Brooks then struck for four consecutive goals to take a lead they would never relinquish. It began when Tim Rego (Mansfield, MA) one-timed home a backdoor feed from Hernández on the power play at 16:22 of the first. In the second, Hernández himself scored on a setup from the side of the net by Brayden Krieger (Elora, ON), whose pass caught goalie Connor Ungar spinning around while standing, leading to an easy tap-in for the Bandit leading scorer to tie the game just 29 seconds into the period.
Jordan Di Cicco (London, ON) sniped a wrist shot from the left circle top shelf at 4:29 to give Brooks its first lead of the night, and Krieger capped off the home side scoring at 15:01, one-timing home a perfect cross-slot pass from Taylor Makar (Calgar,y AB) for his AJHL-rookie leading 32nd goal of the season.
The Wolverines got closer at 16:54 of the third period when Adam Sandstrom scored on a wrist shot from the slot, but it was as close as they would get, as Brooks held on for the 4-3 regulation win.
The team next gets ready for a busy Family Day weekend, beginning on Valentine’s Day with a Friday night home matchup with the Okotoks Oilers that could have a major impact on the South Division standings. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM with tickets available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.
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