HOME GAME 8 RECAP: SAINTS END BANDITS WIN STREAK 4-3.
By Adam Kulak
In one of the most anticipated games of the season so far, the Saints did something that only one other team has been able to do this season, and that’s defeat the Brooks Bandits, snapping their 14-game win streak here at Grant Fuhr Arena. Some lineup changes for this game as Dylan Bourlai and Brent Schuldhaus would come out and Parker Saretsky and Ryan Harker would draw back in. Braeden Stephen would get the start in goal looking for his 2nd win of the season as the Saints look to go 2-0 on the weekend.
The Saints came out and had one of the best 1st periods they’ve had all season. With Brooks coming in on a 14-game winning streak, you know the Saints would be motivated tonight and they sure showed it in this period. They came out flying, getting pucks to the net and firing on all cylinders, holding Brooks to just 1 shot for almost the whole first half of the period. They didn’t spend a lot of time in their own zone, Brooks got into penalty trouble early in the game taking three straight minors and spent a lot of the period defending. They were very strong on the penalty kill however as the Saints couldn’t get anything going on the powerplay and would go 0/3 in the period. Just over 3 minutes left in the period it would be the Saints who would strike first. Logan Ganie would pick up a loose puck at the top of the circle and would beat goaltender Pierce Charleson for his 6th of the season. The lead would only last a few minutes, as Brooks would tie it up late. With a minute left in the period, Bandits Captain Arnaud Vachon would fly down the left wing and beat Braeden Stephen blocker side to tie the game up 1-1. The Saints outshot the Bandits 15-7 in the opening 20 minutes as the period would end in a tie.
The Bandits came out stronger in the 2nd period and there were some nervous moments in the early minutes of the frame. A couple turnovers in their own zone and the Saints would be scrambling but Braeden Stephen would hold the fort. The Bandits penalty trouble would continue in the 2nd period as they would put the Saints on a 1:14 5v3 Powerplay halfway through the period. They would finally capitalize on the man advantage as Tanner Hickey would blast a one timer from the point for his 6th of the season to give the Saints back the lead. However, the Bandits would continue their strong play in this period, using their speed and aggression to force turnovers in the Saints zone and they evened out the shots as the period went on. With 2:29 left in the period the Bandits would find the equalizer as Arnaud Vachon would bang in his 2nd of the night on the doorstep to tie the game back up. Tanner Hickey would go off for cross checking late in the period and the Saints will start the 3rd with 29 seconds left on the penalty kill. Shots in that period were 11-10 for the Bandits as they evened out the shot clock after 40.
It was a tight game all night long and that would continue in the final 20 minutes. The Bandits responded after a slow 1st with a strong final 40 minutes. They were winning most of the puck battles in the offensive zone and the Saints looked overwhelmed multiple times throughout the game. There were no penalties in the 3rd as the refs put the whistles away for the final 20 minutes. Brooks would strike first in the period 2 minutes in as Bobby Harrison banged in the backdoor feed to give the Bandits a 3-2 lead. It looked like the Bandits would start to take the game over, but the Saints would stick with it and continue to dig deep. They would get the equalizer halfway through the period as Tanner Hickey let a wrist shot go from the point for his 2nd of the night. Braeden Stephen battled hard in the net tonight and gave the Saints a chance to win. He was called upon a lot in the 2nd and 3rd as Brooks put the pressure on and he came up big several times. It looked like the game was going to Overtime for a second straight night as the minutes ticked down, but with 55 seconds to play, Kris Bladen would play the hero tonight. Matthew Rempe would spring Seth Fyten and Kris Bladen on a 2 on 1 and Fyten would slide it over to Bladen for his 1st goal of the season to put the dagger on the Bandits 14 game win streak.
Kris Bladen picked a fantastic time for his 1st goal as a Saint, he’s been playing well lately and putting in the effort on a nightly basis and he was finally rewarded tonight. Tanner Hickey was a beast all night with 2 big goals from the point, one of them tying the game up at 3. It was an incredibly fast paced game; these two teams don’t like each other, and they put on a battle all game. The Saints dominated the 1st period but Brooks woke up in the 2nd and 3rd to make the game close. The final shots of the game were 33-33 as the Saints would pull it out late to improve to 14-4-0 on the season.
The Saints are back in action Friday, November 2nd as they’re in Grande Prairie to take on the Storm.
They are back at home Friday, November 9th as they welcome the Olds Grizzly’s, puck drop at 7:00PM.