By Terry Martin
The Spruce Grove Saints and Brooks Bandits came into tonight’s game tied 1-1 in the AJHL final as the series shifted back to the Grant Fuhr Arena. The Saints exploded in the offensive zone, scoring five goals in the second period to win game one but would lose a tough game on Saturday in overtime. If the Saints were to win tonight’s game, they would stay undefeated on home ice in the 2022 playoffs.
Aiden Fink would be the one to open the scoring in game three for the Bandits, shooting the puck blocker side from the slot with 17:24 left in the opening period. Devin Phillips would then make it 2-0 for Brooks shortly after on a 2-on-1 break. The Saints would battle back in the later half of the period as Caiden Gault would score first, shooting the puck glove side on Barwick. Niko Jovanovic would then score 17 seconds later to tie the game after scoring from the slot. The teams would remain tied 2-2 but the Saints would trail 5-10 on the shot clock after 20 minutes of play.
The Saints and Bandits would battle back and forth throughout the first 10 minutes of the second period as neither goalie would budge. Dario Beljo would break the tension as he scores off a rebound to give the Bandits a 3-2 lead with 7 minutes remaining in the frame. The Saints would come right back as Liam Watkins would bank the puck off the Bandits goalie to tie the game back up 3-3. The Saints would get a few more chances at the end of the period but the score would remain even after 40 minutes of play. The Saints would jump out ahead in shots after 2 periods, leading 22-18.
The third period would be just as fast as the previous, as both teams would rush back and forth down the ice creating some great chances. Tristan Martin would make some incredible saves throughout the period, including a cross crease stop to keep the game tied. Both teams would not score and they would go to overtime for the 2nd straight game. The Saints would just trail in shots, 24-29 after 60 minutes of play.
The Bandits would quickly end the game in overtime in similar fashion as last game after Ryan McAllister would one-time the puck into the net from the slot.
Spruce Grove and Brooks will battle it out in game 4 tomorrow night at the Grant Fuhr Arena as the Saints look to tie the series back up.