The Brooks Bandits came into their Saturday night meeting with the Blackfalds Bulldogs with a (3-0-1) record, their only loss coming at the hands of the Canmore Eagles in overtime. Last season, Brooks finished atop the AJHL standings, losing only seven regular season games in the process. Blackfalds and Brooks’ first meeting of last season ended poorly for Blackfalds, to put it lightly. Brooks came into Saturday night’s game atop the league standings and leading the league in goals scored. Their starting goaltender, Ethan Barwick, was a perfect 3-0-0 and had only allowed four goals in three games.
Brooks stared the game flying, but it was Blackfalds who found the back of Barwick’s net twice early, first on a powerplay goal from Tyler Wallace, then a goal from Bailey Ewonus off of an odd-man rush. The Bandits threw everything they could at Blackfalds, but Charlie Zolin found an answer time and time again. However, Brooks finally got one past Zolin at the end of the first, with Heath Armstrong cashing in on a tidy passing play for a powerplay goal.
In the second, University of Wisconsin commit, Aiden Fink, showed off his dazzling skill, finding a way to deke past both the Bulldogs’ defense and Charlie Zolin on his way to a goal. Brooks found themselves tied with Blackfalds for less than three minutes, however, as Brendan Ross had the puck come to him right in front of the net on the powerplay, as his top-corner finish gave the home team their lead back. That would be the first of three Bulldogs goals in the first two and a half minutes, as Connor Dick and Jack Plandowski both scored to extend the Blackfalds lead to 5-2. The story of the first forty minutes, however, was still Charlie Zolin; the Bulldogs goaltender made 25 stunning saves through two periods.
Brooks would get back within two goals early in the third, as captain Dario Beljo scored his first of the year to make it 5-3. The Bulldogs, however, didn’t take long to respond, as Tyler Wallace scored his second of the game and third in his last two games to make it a 6-3 game. Brooks continued to pour on the pressure, but Zolin stopped every opportunity. The Bulldogs take a 6-3 win over the defending AJHL champions, with Charlie Zolin’s 35 saves leading the way.
Article by: Aidan Serra