OKOTOKS, AB (Feb. 24, 2023) — Even after taking a 2–1 lead in the first period, the Okotoks Oilers ultimately allowed three unanswered goals and suffered a 4–2 setback at the hands of the Brooks Bandits at Okotoks Centennial Arena on Friday evening.
Jagger Tapper (Calgary, AB) poked a loose puck past Bandits goaltender Ethan Barwick to put the Oilers ahead at the 17:04 mark of the opening frame. But that score would only hold for 89 seconds before Davide Patella responded with his third goal of the season to make it 2–2 — and once Mikhail Simchuk put the Bandits up 3–2 in the third period, they didn’t look back.
It only took 4:57 for Brooks star Aiden Fink to open the scoring in the game with his 39th goal of the season, converting at the side of the net off a gorgeous feed from Dario Beljo. Oilers starter Parker Sawka (Cochrane, AB) didn’t stand a chance.
Jackson Rowland (Calgary, AB) answered right back at the 8:41 mark, perfectly deflecting a long-range shot from Logan Magowan (Calgary, AB) right through Barwick’s legs to make it 1–1.
The two goaltenders went blow-for-blow in the second period, combining to stop all 19 of the 19 shots they faced (11 for Sawka, eight for Barwick). But the Bandits really started to take over in the third, particularly after killing off a Caelan Fitzpatrick tripping penalty midway through the frame.
Tapper barely missed a glorious opportunity on that Oilers power play to give the home side a 3–2 lead, and the Bandits seized control of the game shortly thereafter. Simchuk deposited the rebound of a Hughie Hooker point shot with 6:15 left in regulation for his eighth goal of the season.
Although Sam Huck (Calgary, AB) struck iron twice in the final minutes, the Oilers didn’t put up much of a fight with Sawka on the bench for the extra attacker. Brendan Poshak sealed the deal with a shot into the vacated cage with 48 seconds remaining, giving the visitors a critical two-goal advantage that would hold through the final buzzer.
The Bandits improved to an AJHL-best 50–5–2 with the victory; Okotoks fell to 34–20–3, still good for third in the AJHL South. The two teams will return to action on Saturday evening for a rematch at the Centennial Regional Arena in Brooks.
Recap: Mike Gould
Photo: Chad Goddard