By Terry Martin
The Saints and Bandits battled it out tonight to see who would keep their season long winning streaks alive. The Saints looked to make it 12 in a row while the Bandits looked to win their 20th straight. Both teams sit atop their divisions, Spruce Grove with 18 wins and 38 points, Brooks with 20 wins and 40 points. This would also be the last game in a 7-game home stand for the Saints, they also looked to stay unbeaten at the Grant Fuhr Arena. In their previous encounter at the AJHL showcase, the Bandits just edged out the Saints 6-4.
The energy and pace in the game was very intense, both teams knew they would have to bring their “A” game through 60 minutes. Caiden Gault would be the one to open the scoring on the power play just 10 minutes through the 1st period, as he would one-time his 18th goal of the season. Zach Bookman would then score for the Bandits on their power play opportunity to tie the game with 6:32 left in the period. The score would remain tied 1-1 and the Saints would trail the Bandits in shots 11-16.
To open the 2nd period, Luigi Benincasa would dangle a few Bandits defenders to cut to the middle and score his 8th goal in 8 games to give the lead back to the Saints. Ewan McPherson would then add to the lead after some great offensive zone pressure to put the Saints up 3-1. Breck McKinley would then find him self in the slot where he would snap the puck low blocker to give them a 3-goal lead. Anthony Cipollone would then score later in the period to cut the lead to 4-2. The Saints would still trail the Bandits in shots 27-17 after 40 minutes, but lead 4-2.
T.J. Hughes would open the scoring for the Bandits in the third period with just 10:44 left in the game, but the Saints would still hold the 4-3 lead. Hughes would also score the tying goal with just a few minutes remaining in the game. Both teams would push the game to overtime where the Bandits would get a power play opportunity but the Saints would push the game to a shootout. The Saints would get goals from Benincasa and Jovanovic while Beckford would stopthe last shot of the game to give the team the win in the shootout to take down the Bandits and win their 12th game in a row while also staying undefeated at the GFA.
The Saints are on the road for one game next week against the Whitecourt Wolverines. Spruce Grove recently beat the Wolverines 4-2 on home ice a few games ago.