Bandits inch closer to first place Okotoks Oilers

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BRUCE PARKER
Brooks Bulletin
Brooks Bandits moved to within three points of the South Division first place Okotoks Oilers this past weekend with two big AJHL victories.
 The Bandits downed Fort McMurray 8-4 Friday and Whitecourt 4-3 Saturday while the Oilers lost one of two games played against Canmore through a shootout.
The victories by Brooks also stopped a four game losing streak by the team.
The Bandits dropped their fourth straight game on Tuesday, Feb. 4 with a 5-4 loss to the Canmore Eagles.
The setback dropped the Bandits four points back of the Okotoks Oilers for top spot in the South Division of the AJHL.
The host Eagles opened the scoring at 15:49 on a shot by Alex Young but Randy Hernandez (Brayden Krieger) countered with a power play goal at 16:53 to close out the scoring.
The Bandits outshot the Eagles 8-7.
Play in the second period had the Eagles jumping out to a two goal lead only to have the Bandits reply with two goals of their own.
Zach Carlson connected 23 seconds into the period and Connor Lyons gave Canmore a 3-1 lead at 4:44.
Sean Chisholm (Krieger and Hernandez) cut into the deficit at 12:10 and Hernandez (Devin Phillips and TJ Hughes) tied the score with his second goal of the game at 13:56.
The Eagles used another quick goal to open the third period scoring. Lyons connected for his second of the game at 4:44.
Michael Spafford then scored what turned out to be the game winner for the Eagles on the power play at 7:45.
Brooks pulled to within one goal on a shot by TJ Hughes (Krieger) at 10:58.
The Bandits outshot the Eagles 13-11 in the period and 31-24 overall. Brooks went one for three on the power play while the Eagles were one for six.
Brayden Krieger and Connor Lyons were named the game stars.
Play Friday night at the Centennial Regional Arena had goaltender Ethan Barwick making some big first period saves to deny the Oil Barons the opening goal.
Fort McMurray netminder Cameron Beson was not as fortunate as he surrendered the lone goal of the period at 16:39 to Chris Pappas (Hughes and Jordan DiCicco). Beson was at the mercy of Pappas who streaked in alone to beat the goaltender high to the blocker side.
The Oil Barons outshot the Bandits 9-6.
The Bandits peppered Beson with 23 second period shots but it was the Oil Barons who would find the back of the net for the first two goals of the period. They connected for markers at 1:28 and 4:15 to take a 2-1 lead.
Ethan Lund (Tim Rego and Heath Armstrong) tied the game at 6:14 and Sean Chisholm (Ryan McAllister) gave the Bandits a 3-2 lead with a power play goal at 15:29.
But the Oil Barons had an answer for the goal and tied the game at 17:43.
Alternate captain Randy Hernandez (Taylor Makar) scored the eventual game winner at 18:19 to give Brooks a 4-3 lead heading into the third period.
The Oil Barons fired nine shots on net in the second period.
Head coach Ryan Papaioannou’s club put the game out of reach with three consecutive third period goals.
Taylor Makar (Hernandez and Krieger) connnected at 3:34. Sean Chisholm (Krieger and Hernandez) followed with a power play goal at 6:31 and Randy Hernandez (Makar) completed his three point night with a goal at 10:58.
Fort McMurray stormed back for their fourth goal 20 seconds after the Hernandez goal but a comeback was not to be.
The Bandits closed out the period scoring on a goal by Jusin Ross (Devin Phillips and Di Cicco) at 14:11.
Brooks outshot Fort McMurray 15-2 and 44-20 overall. The Bandits went two for four with the man advantage while the Oil Barons failed to connect on two power play opportunities.
Taylor Makar was named the Brooks game star.
Hockey action Saturday night had the Whitecourt Wolverines striking for goals at 1:13 and 4:58 to take a quick 2-0 lead.
Defenceman Tim Rego (Hernandez) cut into the deficit with a power play goal at 16:22.
The Bandits outshot the Wolverines 10-8.
As with Friday night’s game, the Bandits poured on the pressure in the second period outshooting the Wolverines 22-9.
Randy Hernandez (Krieger) tied the contest 29 seconds after the puck dropped and Jordan Di Cicco (Hughes and Makar) gave the Bandits a 3-2 lead with a power play goal at 4:29. Brayden Krieger (Makar and Hernandez) scored the eventual game winner at 15:01.
Whitecourt pulled to within one goal at 16:54 to close out the period scoring.
The Bandits outshot the Wolverines 10-6 and 42-23 overall. Brooks went two for three on the power play while Whitecourt failed to connect on three chances with the man advantage.
Randy Hernandez was name the Brooks game star with his second straight three point game.