ROUND 4 GAME 2: Bandits lead series 2-0.
By: Adam Kulak
It was an absolute marathon of a game here in Game 2 at the Centennial Regional Arena. After a slow start, the Saints played a hell of a final 77 minutes of this game. It was similar to Game 1 in that the Bandits had a great start, but the Saints weathered it and fought back. They threw 48 shots at Pierce Charleson and came within inches, but the Bandits would be the ones who would prevail. Simon Gravel would end it late in Double Overtime as the Bandits win 3-2 and now lead the series 2-0.
The Bandits came out in the first period and showed why they are the best team in the league. They immediately set the tempo of this game the way they played and the way they controlled the game. They scored early and kept up the pressure for most of the period, the Saints struggled to get anything going early. 3 minutes in, William Lemay would pick the puck up off a broken play and would pull the Forsberg on Matthew Davis for a highlight reel goal.
The Saints gave them two opportunities on the powerplay but were able to kill both off to keep it a 1 goal game. Davis was brilliant in the opening period; it could have been a lot worse than 1-0 if not for the saves that he was making. He made two huge saves on Simon Boyko, one on the backdoor and off a 2 on 1, holding the Saints in this game.
The Saints started to wake up and take control in the last 5 minutes of the period. They started getting quality looks in the offensive zone and started to build some momentum off their last few shifts. They came close to tying it in the dying minutes, but they would head to the second period down 1-0.
The Bandits stuck quickly in the second period, scoring just 54 seconds into the middle frame. They would create a turnover at the Saints blueline, and Arnaud Vachon would beat Matt Davis over the pad to give the Bandits the 2-goal lead.
However, their 2-0 lead would not last, the Saints carried over their play from the final 5 minutes of the first and would fight their way back into this game. They looked much more dangerous in the second and they were rewarded for it with two big goals. At the 6-minute mark, off a scramble in front, Seth Fyten would get the puck behind the net and finish the wrap around on Pierce Charleson to cut the lead in half. The Saints would continue to build off that goal and with a powerplay opportunity short after, they would make the Bandits pay.
Just as Jakob Lee was stepping back onto the ice, Nick Leyer would find Tanner Hickey at the point with a clear lane. He would walk in and fire one bar down on Charleson and the Saints would battle back to tie this game up at 2. Shots were 23-21 Brooks after 40 minutes as we head into the final frame with a 2-2 deadlock.
The final 20 minutes of this game, both teams turned up the pressure hoping to find the go-ahead goal. Halfway through the period, the Bandits put on a surge in the Saints zone, hemming them in for a couple shifts. The Saints did everything to make sure shots didn’t get through and they were able to weather the Bandits storm.
With 5 minutes to play, the Saints would get another golden opportunity to take the lead. For the second straight game, the Saints would get a 5-minute powerplay, Carter Wolski would get 5 and a game for hitting Parker Saretsky into the boards from behind, giving the Saints a powerplay for almost the rest of the period.
However, once again, the Saints just couldn’t get anything on their lengthy powerplay. The Bandits probably had more high danger chances than the Saints did, and they were shorthanded for 5 minutes. The Saints were unable to take advantage of the opportunity, they outshot the Bandits 12-8 in the third period, but no team could break the tie. As the period would end, Game 2 of the AJHL Finals would have to be decided in extra time.
You couldn’t find a more entertaining game of hockey if you tried. Any time these two teams get together, it never ever disappoints. It was back and forth and back and forth; it was a battle of who had the most left in the tank. Nobody deserved to lose this game the way both teams played and how long it went.
After so many dangerous chances and so many close calls, this game would go all the way until the final 3 minutes of Double Overtime. Brooks had so many breakaways or odd man chances and Simon Gravel would get one more. He would make no mistake on the breakaway going backhand five hole as the Bandits win the Game 2 marathon and now have a 2-0 series lead.
Heartbreaker for the Saints as they played well in both these first two games but just came up an inch short both times. They will now head home for Games 3 and 4 on Monday and Tuesday, looking to get back in this series. Puck drop for both games is 7:00 PM at the Grant Fuhr Arena. Get your tickets at the Saints ox office from 11:30am – 1:30pm on both game days or anytime online here.