DRUMHELLER, AB – The Brooks Bandits (42-4-4) scored seven times in the second period, pulling away for an 11-1 win over the Drumheller Dragons on Friday night at the Drumheller Memorial Arena.
The win was the second-largest margin of victory for the team this season and largest of any road game, and reduced the Bandits’ magic number to clinch first overall in the AJHL to 5 wins, or 10 points, in 10 remaining games.
Parker Foo (Edmonton, AB) led the way offensively with a hat trick, the first of his AJHL career, while rookie defenceman Dennis Cesana (Providence, RI) had a career high 2 goals and 2 assists.
Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON) made 19 saves on 20 shots for his 30th win in a Bandit uniform in just his 34th game in the league.
After a surprisingly scoreless first period in which the Bandits outshot Drumheller 22-6, the visitors broke open the scoresheet early in the middle frame when Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, ON) tipped a Cesana power play point shot at 2:15. Cesana himself then fired in the second and game-winning goal from the right point at the 5:14 mark. Foo scored two quick goals at 10:47 and 11:13 on back to back shifts; the first a rebound goal off of a Cesana shot, the second a wired wrist shot from the left circle on a 2-on-1 with linemate Conner Jean (Oakland, MI).
Just over a minute later at the 12:39 mark, a high slot shot by Parker Huebner (Leduc, AB) trickled over the Dragon goal line, and less than two minutes after that at 14:21 a right circle shot by Orca Wiesblatt (Calgary, AB) found the back of the net to make it 6-0 Bandits.
Blake Kleiner got Drumheller on the board at 16:40 with a point shot goal, but Josh McKechney (Calgary, AB) reclaimed the 6-goal advantage with just 1:13 left in the period on another shot set up by Jean.
In the third, Foo completed his hat trick just 38 seconds in on another power play goal, before Cesana fired in another goal at 7:32 to make it 9-1. Cale Makar (Calgary, AB) put the team into double digits with a shot from the top of the right circle at the 12:17 mark, before Nic Hamre (Ottawa, ON) completed the scoring with a shot from the bottom of the right circle on a 5 on 3 power play at 13:57 to notch the 11-1 final.
The Bandits went 4 for 8 on their power play and a perfect 5 for 5 on their penalty kill, with all skaters but two recording at least one point on the night.
The teams will reconvene in Brooks on Saturday night for the back half of the home and home series and the penultimate game of the season series. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM with tickets available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.