May 6, 2017
by Trevor Miller
PENTICTON, B.C. – A four-goal second period would eventually propel the AJHL Champion Brooks Bandits to their first Western Canada Cup title in franchise history and a 6-1 drubbing of the Chilliwack Chiefs on Saturday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The Bandit’s Conner Jean scored three in the second while tender Mitch Benson stopped 29 of 30, to send the Bandits to the Royal Bank Cup for the second straight season. Last year they came in as the second seed, which this year will be determined by a game Sunday between BCHL Champs Penticton Vees and runners up Chilliwack Chiefs.
In the Championship game Saturday, Oliver Chau opened the scoring in the first period at the 11:54 mark as he wheeled out from behind the Chief net and fired a shot from the high slot that beat a heavily screened Mark Sinclair.
Chilliwack quickly evened the score about two minutes later on a power play when a Carver Watson point shot was redirected by Justin Dixson. Benson made the initial save before Dixson banged in the rebound.
The Bandits seized control of the game with four second period markers. Jean got his first of three on a powerplay at 2:22, scoring on a rebound off Joe O’Connor’s point shot, a goal which would eventually hold up as the game winner.
About four minutes later, Arnaud Vachon put Brooks up 3-1 on a blast from the right face-off circle after a perfect pass from Kord Pankewicz.
Jean then struck for a second time late in the period. Cale Makar carved his way through the Chief defense into the offensive zone and flipped a pass to Jean – whose knuckler got through Sinclair. 4-1 Bandits at the 17:25 mark.
But Jean wasn’t finished. With just 16 seconds left in the period he buried a rebound and closed out the period with a 5-1 lead.
Chiefs got a desperate opportunity to get themselves back in the game in third when Bandit forward Jake Theis was assessed a five minute major and game misconduct for kneeing at the 8:33 mark.
Pulling Sinclair for the extra attacker, the Chiefs couldn’t Mitch Benson and eventually gave up a short-handed empty netter to Parker Foo to make it 6-1 at 11:01 and close out the scoring.
The loss relegates the Chiefs to the “Play-In Game” Sunday, with the second berth at the RBC Cup at stake.
They will face the Penticton Vees again; puck drop at 4 pm.
Tickets are $25 and are available at the Valley First box office, or online at www.valleyfirsttix.com
The game will be streamed live, in HD, on www.hockeyTV.com