BROOKS, AB (March 31, 2023) — Four first-period goals would be all the Brooks Bandits needed on Friday night, as the defending AJHL champions rode a hot start to a 4-2 win over the Okotoks Oilers in Game 5 of their AJHL South Semifinal.
The Bandits now lead the series 3-2 and Okotoks must win at home on Sunday night in Game 6 to keep its season alive.
Heath Armstrong opened the offence with a low wrist shot from the right circle at 3:05 to make it 1-0. After Okotoks couldn’t convert on a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage, Tyler Blocha scored less than a minute later, tapping home a feed from the top of the crease to double the Brooks advantage.
With Brooks on its first power play, goaltender Ethan Barwick made a key stop on a shorthanded odd-man rush for the Oilers, and on the very next sequence Hudson Malinoski tipped home a goal from the right circle to make it 3-0. In the final minute of the period, Nathan Free finished off a 2-on-1 rush to give Brooks a 4-0 advantage after one, despite a narrow 10-9 shot lead for the home side.
The second was scoreless despite eight power plays between the two teams in the frame. In the third, Dean Spak (Calgary, AB) scored shorthanded on a perfectly placed wrist shot from the slot at 7:04, and Brett Huxley (Calgary, AB) finished off a net front scramble started by an Ethan Rowland (Calgary, AB) net drive to cut the deficit to two with 5:10 left in the game.
But Brooks killed off a seventh and final Okotoks power play chance late in the period and held on for the win, outshooting Okotoks 27-23 along the way. Brooks was 1 for 8 on its power play.