Simon Gravel (Boucherville, QC) slid home a rebound shot 4:23 into overtime, as the Brooks Bandits withstood a late charge from the host Okotoks Oilers, taking a 6-5 overtime win in Game 4 of the AJHL South Division Final, and a 3 games to 1 series lead.

The Bandits are now one win away from qualifying for the AJHL Final for the sixth time in franchise history, with the opportunity first coming Friday night in Brooks in Game 5.

Brooks opened the scoring shorthanded at the 15:40 mark when William Lemay (Marieville, QC) stripped goaltender Brady Parker of the puck at the end wall and tucked the puck into an open net. But less than two minutes later, Jack Works scored for Okotoks as a pinballing puck in the slot deflected by Pierce Charleson (Aurora, ON) to equalize the score.

On a 4-on-1 rush early in the second, Works scored his second of the game to give Okotoks its first lead of the night. But Randy Hernandez (Miami, FL) equalized it at the 6:40 mark, before a Luke Bast (Red Deer, AB) point shot was tipped home by Ryan Mahshie (Stoney Creek, ON) at 13:55 to put Brooks up 3-2.

At the 15:41 mark, with the Bandits on their second and final power play of the game, Simon Boyko (Mississauga, ON) fed a perfect pass from the left halfwall to Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, ON) in the slot, who one-timed a shot home to make it 4-2 Brooks.

Things started off perfectly for the Bandits in the third, scoring on their first shot of the period when Hernandez cut from the left side of the net, through the slot, and tucked a low shot by Parker for a commanding 5-2 lead.

But that advantage evaporated as the Oilers outshot Brooks 12-3 in the period and scored three times; first a power play goal off the rush from Kyle Gordon, then a deflected shot from the half wall by Quinn Olson, and finally a slap shot through traffic by Ryan Grant with just 36 seconds left in the game to force overtime.

In the extra frame, Hernandez led the way on the game-winning play, cutting behind the net and then sending a behind-the-back centering pass out front to Lemay who one-timed the puck, but missed wide right. The puck bounced back in front of the net, though, and Gravel was there to one-time it into the Okotoks cage to send the Bandits streaming off their bench and cause hundreds of visiting Brooks fans to erupt into cheers.

Game 5 is set for a 7:00 PM puck drop in Brooks on Friday night, with tickets available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.

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