Photo and Article credit: Alessia Proietti, rdnewsNOW
In a nearly sold-out arena, the Blackfalds Bulldogs fell 2-0 to the Brooks Bandits, the leading team in the AJHL, on Saturday night at the Eagle Builders Centre.
With 80 points, the Bandits currently sit in first place overall in the AJHL while the Bulldogs are just 17 points behind, ranking fourth this season.
The Bulldogs had played against the Bandits two other times this season, with each team winning their home game.
In the first period, the Bandits’ Liam Fitzpatrick opened the scoreboard at 14:27 with a goal on Bulldogs netminder Gabe Gratton. The unassisted goal put the team in a 1-0 lead.
After 20 minutes of play, the Bulldogs were outshooting the Bandits 9-6.
In the middle frame, Brooks’ Ewan McPherson scored at 12:38, pushing their lead 2-0.
The Bulldogs once again outshoot the Bandits in the second period 10-7.
In the final period, only one power play opportunity presented itself on each side, but none were capitalized. Although the Bulldogs pulled out their goaltender for a short time during the final three minutes of regulation, it was to no avail, leaving a 2-0 win for the Bandits.
Blackfalds outshot Brooks by double in the final period (12-6) and 31-19 overall.
1st: Johnny Hicks (BRK) – SV31
2nd: Tanner Willick (BFB)
3rd: Liam Fitzpatrick (BRK) – 1G, 1A
The loss keeps the Bulldogs in the league’s fourth place with a record of 30-14-2-1 while the Bandits stay in first at 40-4-0-0.
Bulldogs Head Coach Doug Quinn said despite the loss, he was happy with how the team played, stating the Bandits are a skilled group with skilled players.
“The Brooks are the top team in our league, they’re probably the top team in the country, and, what I told our team, the difference between winning and losing is hardly anything. They made a couple of plays and we didn’t,” he said, adding the Bandits are also ranked first in penalty killing in the league at 91 per cent.
Particularly pleased with his team’s puck movement, earning 12 more shots on goal compared to the visiting team, he said the Bandits’ goaltender played well.
“We just needed one of those goals to go in early and maybe it changes the whole dynamic of the game,” he said.
With defenseman Carter Patterson out from their lineup due to an injury, Quinn said the team missed his leadership and experience. However, he says they’ll be focusing on their offensive lines for next game.
The Bulldogs next game is on February 2 at the Eagle Builders Centre. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. with the broadcast live on Mixlr.