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Round Two Recap - Viterra AJHL South Division
Posted March 20th, 2019 @ 12:00 am

A record wining streak was broken as the Canmore Eagles clawed back into their AJHL South Semi-Finals against the Brooks Bandits, while the Camrose Kodiaks were able to come from behind to avoid a series sweep at the hands of the Okotoks Oilers, but despite their very best efforts the Eagles and Kodiaks have been pushed to the brink and will need to win three straight if they want to make it into the third round of post season play.

Brooks Bandits (1) vs Canmore Eagles (6)

Game 3

After heavily outplaying the Canmore Eagles in the first two games in Brooks, outscoring their opponent 16-3 to win their 34th and 35th straight games overall, the Bandits were looking to push the Eagles towards elimination in Game 3 on Monday.  The Bandits would allow an early power play goal (Quinton Ong) to go down 1-0, but would answer back on a power play of their own (William Lemay) mere minutes later.  From there the Bandits picked up where they left off in many ways from the first two games, outshooting the 22-6 in the opening frame, but it stayed tied 1-1 after twenty minutes.  At the start of the 2nd period, the Canmore Eagles would score in the first minute of play, as Max Giangualano restored the Eagles lead.  The Bandits would apply pressure to the deficit, and would score a power play goal (Nathan Plessis) with 3:00 remaining to take a 2-2 tie into the 3rd period.

With no scoring in a very tight final frame, the game would shift to overtime when the Canmore Eagles would take the lead for the third and final time.  With Andrew Lucas in the Bandits penalty box, Quinton Ong would score his second power play goal of the game to give the underdog Eagles a massive 3-2 win, cutting the Bandits series lead in half to 2-1.  Canmore, despite being outshot 60-28, rode stellar goaltending from Thomas Davis and timely scoring to become just the fourth team to beat the Bandits this season and the first since November 27th, 2018.

Game 4

Coming off the heels of a thrilling Game 3 victory, the Eagles had a chance to tie the series on Tuesday night on home ice in Game 4.  The game would see-saw back and forth for the first half of the 1st period, until Arnaud Vachon would put the visiting Bandits up 12:08 in.  The first Bandit lead in Canmore would be short lived, as the Eagles would score a big shorthanded goal 1:09 later courtesy of Nolan Steer.  The 1-1 tie would last until the intermission.

To start the 2nd period, the Brooks Bandits would restore their lead with a shorthanded goal of their own when Vachon picked up his second of the game 1:39 in.  Looking to close out another tight period with their 2-1 lead intact, the Bandits would surrender two late goals when Quinton Ong and Owen Reith would score just 1:31 apart in the final five minutes to give the Eagles a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes.

In the 3rd period, the Bandits would up pressure and outshoot the Eagles 14-7 over the stanza.  This would pay off when Tyler Campbell would tally the tying goal with just under thirteen minutes left to play.  For the second night in a row, neither team could close out the other in regulation so Brooks and Canmore went to another overtime.

Like the three periods before it, the overtime was close and back and forth.  On such a contested night, it was only fitting that the game winner – a workmanlike dig in the goalmouth – would be Vauchon’s hattrick goal at 17:23 of the first overtime period.  The win gave the Bandits a 3-1 series lead and they’ll look to close out the Eagles on Friday in Brooks.

In the series, the Bandits have outshot the Eagles 214-88.  The Bandits power play is 6/23 in the first four games, allowing a single shorthanded goal, while the Eagles power play is 3/22 with a shorthanded goal against.

The penalty kill for Brooks has been key, as they killed off all seven minors assessed to them in the Game 4 OT victory including a full 5-on-3 and two other minors in the 3rd period.

The Bandits and Eagles meet in Brooks on Friday at 7:00 p.m. for Game 5.

 

Okotoks Oilers (2) vs Camrose Kodiaks (4)

Game 3

Like the Canmore Eagles, the Camrose Kodiaks found themselves in a 2-0 series hole returning to their barn after a pair of tough losses.  With the Okotoks Oilers looking to return to the third round, Camrose needed a big answer to avoid being set up for a sweep.

Okotoks was dominant from the second the puck dropped in Game 3, but so was Kodiaks netminder Kyle Dumba.  Despite outshooting Camrose 25-5 in their own barn in the opening period, the Oilers would have to settle for a 1-0 lead (Quinn Olson) heading into the 2nd period.

After the intermission, the offensive engine that is the Okotoks Oilers revved and roared, as they would outshoot the Kodiaks 17-3 and score four more goals to build a 5-0 lead.  Seth Bernard-Docker, Dylan Holloway twice and Blake Wells had Okotoks looking strong heading into the final period.

Marc Pasemko would make it 6-0 5:42 into the final period, while the Kodiaks would break the shutout bid of Brady Parker on a shorthanded goal from Kyler Kupka ­­with less than five minutes remaining.  Okotoks would outshoot Camrose 56-12 and the 6-1 win meant a 3-0 series lead and an elimination game on Tuesday.

Game 4­

After a tight Game 1, consecutive lopsided losses had the Camrose Kodiaks looking to keep their season alive at home on Tuesday night while the Okotoks Oilers came into the Edgeworth Centre with brooms in hand, looking to sweep their rivals.

The Oilers certainly got off to a good start, outshooting the Kodiaks 13-6 in the 1st period and building a 2-0 lead off of goals by Tylor Ludwar and Marc Pasemko.  1:24 into the 2nd period, Kyle Gordon would give the defending divisional champions a commanding 3-0 lead but at 9:55 Carson Kurylo would relieve the Oilers of his command on a Kodiak power play.

With their season on the line and facing a 3-1 deficit to start the 3rd period, McKenzie Welke stepped up in a big way to cut the lead to a single goal in the opening minute.  Then, at 9:38, Kyler Kupka would score the second Kodiaks power play goal of the game to tie it 3-3.  With momentum now finally swaying in Camrose’s direction, Kupka would score the eventual game winner with just under two minutes left to send the home crowd into hysterics. 

The Kodiaks would hang on to take Game 4, 4-3, and a Game 5 will be held on Friday at 7:00 p.m. in Okotoks.

In the series, Okotoks has outshot Camrose 197-67.  The Oilers power play has gone 3/14, allowing one shorthanded goal, while the Kodiaks power play is 4/22 with a short handed goal against, though this was into an empty net.

- - -

March 17th, 2019

Home ice advantage proved to be favourable for higher seeded teams at the start of the AJHL South Division Semi-Finals.  Both the Brooks Bandits and Okotoks Oilers would use it to their advantage, as they now hold 2-0 series leads over the Canmore Eagles and Camrose Kodiaks respectively.  The wins leave Okotoks undefeated in the post season so far (5-0) while Brooks comes off a first round bye to carry their regular season winning streak into the playoffs.  Brooks hasn’t lost since November 27th and has now won 35 games in a row.

Brooks Bandits (1) vs Canmore Eagles (6)

Game 1

The Brooks Bandits resumed their search for another national title on Friday night at the Centennial Regional Arena, where they put up a perfect record all season.  The Canmore Eagles, meanwhile, were coming off a thrilling series upset over the Drumheller Dragons and were looking to maybe catch the rested Bandits off their game after already proving their playoff mettle.   The quick start to the game saw Brooks pull ahead 1-0 courtesy of Nathan Plessis, but the Canmore Eagles would tie the game just over a minute later when Finn Withey beat Bandits netminder Pierce Charleson to tie the game at 1-1. 

However, this would be as close as Canmore would get in Game 1 as the Bandits scored the next six goals to build a 7-1 lead including a pair on the power play.  The Eagles would add a power play goal of their own late in the third period, but Brooks would answer a dozen seconds later as Simon Boyko’s 2nd of the game secured an 8-2 final.  Eagles’ goaltender Thomas Davis was maybe the busiest player of the night, as Brooks outshot Canmore 44-13.  For the Bandits, Simon Boyko (2-2), Jakob Lee (1-3) and Jordan Di Cicco (0-4) paced the victory with 4 points apiece. 

Game 2

The Brooks Bandits were dominant in Game 1 and they certainly carried the momentum into Game 2.  However, the Canmore Eagles would bend, but not break during the 1st period as they were undeterred by another 1-0 deficit (Ryan Mahshie) and would head to the intermission tied 1-1 courtesy of a goal from Brent Schuldhaus with just over four minutes remaining despite being outshot 16-7. 

The Bandits would continue to pour it on in the 2nd period and near the halfway mark of the frame, the dam would finally burst.  In the final 11:28 of the middle stanza, the Bandits would score four times, including three scores in a span of 2:12, to establish a big 5-1 lead.  In the 3rd period, the Bandits would pick up right where the left off as William Lemay scored his second of the contest just 1:02 in while Jakob Lee and Lemay’s hattrick goal would close out the 8-1 Brooks victory and have the National Junior A Championship  hosts out to a two games series lead. 

Brooks outshot the Eagles 62-20 on Saturday, and have outshot Canmore 106-33 in the series.  On special teams, the Bandits also have a decisive edge as they’ve gone 4/12 on the power play and the penalty kill was near-perfect, going 7/8.   The Eagles will try to get back in the series on Monday and Tuesday night for Games 3 and 4 in Canmore.

Okotoks Oilers (2) vs Camrose Kodiaks (4)

Game 1

In the first game of their opening round series against the Calgary Canucks, the Okotoks Oilers needed a Herculean final minute to score three times to force overtime and win en route to sweeping the Canucks.  In their series opener against the Camrose Kodiaks, more late game heroics were needed and once again prove to be the deciding factor. 

Finding themselves trailing the Kodiaks 3-2 with just under seven minutes remaining in the 3rd period, reigning AJHL MVP Dylan Holloway would announce his presence in the series in a profound way.  Holloway, who missed the Oilers’ opening round, would score his first of the playoffs to tie the game at with just 5:22 remaining and would give the Oilers the lead with his second of the game with only 2:27 showing on the clock.  While the Kodiaks would pull their goalie for the extra attacker, this would lead to an empty net goal by Ben Evanish as Okotoks came from behind to take Game 1 away from the Camrose Kodiaks 5-3. 

Carson Kurylo lead the Kodiaks with a goal and an assist in the loss, while Kyle Dumba was outstanding in goal as he almost stole one for Camrose, making 40 saves on the 44 shots that came his way.

Game 2

Coming off their gutsy third period effort on Friday night, the Okotoks Oilers would carry the play in the opening period of Game ­2 against the Camrose Kodiaks by outshooting them 13-1.  Despite the lopsided shots, the game would remain scoreless until Austin Wong would beat Camrose netminder Kyle Dumba on the power play to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead going into the 2nd period.  The Kodiaks would respond in the following period, but it will be the Oilers who would strike first with another power play goal as Dylan Holloway put Okotoks up 2-0.  The Kodiaks would solve Oilers goalie Brady Parker with 3:48 left in the period, as Jacob Kendall cut the lead in half. 

In this 3rd period, the Okotoks Oilers would need no late game heroics as Holloway scored his second of the game just 1:47 in and Kaleb Ergang would strike on another Okotoks power play at 12:38 to make it 4-1.  Physical play would then ramp up, as the Kodiaks sent a message prior to Game 3 in Camrose.  With just under seven minutes left in the game, the two teams would combine for 98 minutes in penalties.  Ben Evanish would score shorthanded to make the final score 5-1 in favour of Okotoks. 

In the first two games, Okotoks outshot Camrose 87-35.  The Oilers power play went 3/14, while the Kodiaks man-advantage capitalized twice on their fourteen opportunities.  Game Three and Four will be played in Camrose on Monday and Tuesday night.

@TomStrangward

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