Photo credit: Xander Holcomb, Blackfalds Bulldogs
The Blackfalds Bulldogs and Brooks Bandits had played five hard-fought games on the season, with Blackfalds actually going into the two teams’ sixth and final meeting of the season with the opportunity to win the season series, sporting a 2-2-1 record. Brooks, on the other hand, have their remaining games to gear up for a playoff run that they know will have a delayed beginning, having clinched first place previously. Blackfalds prevailed over the Bandits during their last meeting, 6-3 in Brooks.
Both teams started the game off at a very fast pace, with Blackfalds taking the early edge in shots. On the Bulldogs’ first powerplay of the game, Brett Meerman took a pass from Tanner Willick and slung a one-timer through Ethan Barwick to make it 1-0 Blackfalds. Matthew Hennessey made some sharp saves to keep the Bulldogs in front, while Ethan Barwick at the other end of the rink had to make a beautiful glove save on Jayden Joly to keep the score at one. Blackfalds, however, would double up their lead with just a second to go in the first period, with Meerman again scoring on the powerplay, this time taking a pass from Jason Siedem and wiring a wrist shot post-and-in to beat the buzzer.
Brooks’ second-period offence made the game a contest once more, with first Mikhail Simchuk sending a cross-crease pass deflecting off a Bulldogs skate and in to make it 2-1. Blackfalds would manage to extend the lead to 3-1 on a powerplay of their, own, with Jason Siedem taking a perfect pass from Layne Loomer and hammering it past Ethan Barwick. Aiden Fink, however, would notch his 34th goal of the year minutes later, cleaning up a rebound in front with a backhand shot over Matthew Hennessey to make it 3-2.
The game stood at 3-2 throughout the bulk of the third period. Wes Turner’s cross-checking penalty at the 13:53 mark could have been Blackfalds’ opportunity to put the game to bed. Rather, a Brendan Ross double-minor for kneeing evened out the numbers to four a side and a four-on-four goal by Elliot Dutil tied things up. Aiden Fink would fire home a one-timer on the subsequent powerplay, and another Bulldogs penalty gave Dutil the chance to settle the game on the five-on-three.
Blackfalds remains two points back of Okotoks for second in the south, and with games Tuesday and Saturday against the Oilers at the Eagle Builders Centre, this week could be what decides whether or not the Bulldogs have a shot at that second-place spot. Brooks improves to 4-2-0 in the season series against Blackfalds, while the Bulldogs end the year taking a respectable five points from their six games against the Brooks Bandits.