Losing at home is a rare occurrence for the Brooks Bandits. Last season, the Bandits had a perfect record at home in the regular season going 29-0. This season, the Bandits won their first 21 games in their home of the Centennial Regional Arena. However, this week, the Bandits not only lost their first regular-season home game for the first time since February 2018, a 6-2 loss to the Okotoks Oilers on Wednesday night, but they suffered back-to-back home losses for the first time since November 2017. Their 2nd straight loss came at the hands of the Canmore Eagles Saturday night. In a wild high scoring affair, the Eagles triumphed 7-6 to improve their record to 20-25-4 for 44 points. The Eagles remain 9 points back of the Camrose Kodiaks for 4th place in the AJHL South Division.
?I thought we were really good and confident,? said Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne. ?We were structured, we scored on our opportunities and our Penalty Kill was good.?
The Eagles were able to enjoy the whole week to practice and get ready for that game, as their last action was on the previous Saturday (Jan. 25).
It was the Bandits who got on the board first with Defenceman Tim Rego scoring a Power Play goal at 6:24 of the 1st period. The Eagles answered back with a Power Play goal of their own, with 16-year-old rookie Tristan Zandee scoring his 12th of the season at 7:31. Mitch Watson and Ethan Schaeffer assisted. The Eagles took the lead on Defenceman Tayler Miller?s 3rd goal of the season at 10:11. Zach Carlson assisted. The Eagles then went up by two at 12:56 on a goal from Mitch Watson, his 9th of the campaign. Cameron Chin and Tayler Miller assisted. But the hometown team was able to score 3 goals in a span of 2:33 with goals Corson Ceulemens, Randy Hernandez and Sean Chisholm to take a 4-3 lead going into the 1st intermission.
In the 2nd period, the Eagles tied the game at 2:33 courtesy of a goal from Michael Spafford with Dylan Witzke assisting. The Eagles then took the lead on a Power Play goal from Witzke at 5:33, his 4th of the season. Alex Young and Zach Carlson assisted.
In the 3rd period, after Tristan Zandee received a 5-minute match penalty at 2:59 of the period following a Bandits minor penalty, Brooks scored two quick goals 24 seconds apart with both goals scored by Brayden Krieger to regain the lead. But the Eagles who knew that they would be facing adversity in the contest didn?t let that 5-minute match penalty derail them and they capitalized on a Power Play opportunity to tie the game. It was Zach Carlson who netted his 16th of the season at 11:14. Young and Witzke got the assists. With only 3:56 left in regulation time, the Eagles took the lead as Michael Spafford, who was playing his 100th game as an Eagle, scored his 2nd of the game and 7th of the season. That goal stood as the game-winner. Ethan Schaffer and Lukas Jirousek assisted.
Spafford who is in his Sophomore season with the Eagles has been rewarded lately with 7 points in his last 5 games.
?Spaff had a tough go this season,? said Coach Milne. ?But he stuck with it, he worked hard, and he?s getting confidence.?
Between the pipes, it was rookie Devin Chapman who got the start. He made 27 saves to improve his record to 9-10. The shots on goal were 33-21 in favour of Brooks.
The two teams meet again on Tuesday night, but this time on the ice of the Canmore Recreation Centre. Puck drop is 7 pm.
EAGLES FUN FACTS:
– It was the Eagles? first win at the Centennial Regional Arena in Brooks since November 1st, 2013.
– The Eagles have won 6 of their last 8 games.
– After Tuesday night?s rematch vs Brooks, the Eagles will take on the Okotoks Oilers for a home-and-home series next weekend with the Eagles hosting the back half on Saturday night.