The Brooks Bandits bounced back from Monday’s Game 3 setback to the Canmore Eagles, as Arnaud Vachon scored from the left circle at 17:23 of overtime to give the Bandits a 4-3 win in Game 4 of the AJHL South Semifinal on Tuesday night.
Vachon led the way with three goals on the night, his first three of the post season, while Tyler Campbell (Winnipeg, MB) had the clutch game-tying goal in the third period to force the extra frame.
With the win, the Bandits now lead the series three games to one, and can earn their spot in the AJHL South Final with a win in Game 5 on Friday night in Brooks.
Vachon’s first of the game opened the scoring at the 12:08 mark when he batted a puck out of midair on a long stretch pass from Andrew Lucas (Alexandria, VA), sped by a defender and tucked a breakaway shot past Canmore goalie Thomas Davis. Just over a minute later, though, with Brooks on a power play, Colton Young fed a perfect pass across on a 2-on-1 to Nolan Steer who one-timed it in past Pierce Charleson (Aurora, ON) to tie it 1-1.
Brooks retook the lead at the 1:39 mark of the second on a shorthanded goal of their own, after a defensive zone turnover by Canmore, as William Lemay (Marieville, QC) fed a pass across from the left side to a waiting Vachon at the right circle who fired a top shelf one-timer home for his second of the game.
But Canmore surged late in the frame, with Quinton Ong scoring off the rush from the left circle at 16:15, and a defensive zone turnover leading to a net front goal for Owen Reith less than two minutes later, making it 3-2 Canmore heading into the third.
It was only the third time all season that Brooks had trailed after 40 minutes; and the team was 0-2 in that scenario.
But Campbell helped change that trend at the 7:05 mark of the third period, when he tipped home a centering pass from Simon Boyko (Mississauga, ON) that tied the game up.
The Bandits got into penalty trouble late in the third, being sent to the penalty kill four times in the final five minutes, including a five-on-three advantage for Canmore. But the PK unit stood tall, going a perfect seven for seven on the night.
In the extra frame, the teams exchanged a bevy of chances, including a near-goal for Canmore midway through the frame on which the puck lay along the Bandit goal line until Charleson was able to get on top of it.
But a scramble in front of the net led to the game winner, as a Ryan Mahshie (Stoney Creek, ON) shot was blocked, but came to Vachon who fired it through a maze of bodies in front of the Canmore cage and into the net to notch the final score, as the Bandits stormed directly off the ice after the goal.
Brooks outshot the Eagles 48-27 in the game. The pivotal Game 5 goes Friday night in Brooks with tickets on sale at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.