BROOKS, AB (April 12, 2019) – Simon Gravel (Boucherville, QC) led the way with two goals, including the game-winner, as the Brooks Bandits won Game 1 of the 2019 AJHL championship final 3-2 over the Spruce Grove Saints on Friday night in front of an announced crowd of 1,741 at the Centennial Regional Arena.
Gravel’s first opened the scoring just 3:02 into the game when a feed from Andrew Lucas (Alexandria, VA) at the right point found him at the backdoor for a tip-in goal, beating Matt Davis for the only goal of a period in which the Bandits outshot the Saints 9-8.
The Bandits nearly doubled the Saints in shots in the second 9-5, but the teams traded goals, beginning with Ryan Peckford of Spruce Grove poking in a loose puck rebound from the slot to tie the game 8:35 in.
But on a Brooks power play, Ryan Mahshie (Stoney Creek, ON) slid a low wrister between the pads of Davis and into the Saints net to reclaim a 2-1 lead for Brooks. It was the only special teams marker on the night as the Bandits went 1 for 4 on the man advantage and a perfect 5 for 5 on the penalty kill.
Brooks extended the lead just 50 seconds into the third when William Lemay (Marieville, QC) sped by a defender to create a 2-on-1 rush and fed a pass through the slot to Gravel who tapped in another backdoor feed to double the Bandit lead.
That goal would prove pivotal as the Saints got one back at 12:14 when a Logan Ganie shot ricocheted off a defender’s stick and knuckled by Pierce Charleson (Aurora, ON) to make it a one-goal game.
Spruce Grove was awarded a five minute power play late in the game when Ray Christy (St. Paul, MN) was ejected for a hit to the head major penalty, but took a penalty of their own only seconds later to negate a good portion of it. Brooks held on late, clearing it down to the Saints end when the penalty kill resumed and pinning the puck down low to secure the 3-2 win and the series lead.
The teams reconvene for Game 2 on Saturday night at the CRA with puck drop scheduled for 7 PM. Tickets are available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.