By Jason La Rose, Hockey Canada
BROOKS, Alta. – Arnaud Vachon and Jakob Lee scored two minutes apart late in the first period, and the Brooks Bandits (AJHL) withstood an all-world goaltending performance from Francis Boisvert of the Ottawa Jr Senators (CCHL) to earn a 2-1 win on Tuesday night at the 2019 National Junior A Championship.
The Bandits continue to go where few host teams have gone before; since the start of the five-team format in 1990, Brooks is just the ninth home team to start with three-consecutive wins.
Despite the loss for the Jr. Senators, the night belonged to Boisvert; he made 37 saves – 16 in the first period, 14 in the second and seven more in the third – to give Ottawa a chance at its second win.
Against the flow of play, the East Region champions were first onto the scoreboard; Colin Marshall went coast to coast, finishing with a quick wrist shot that may have hit a Brooks stick before beating goaltender Pierce Charleson over the glove.
Vachon needed two minutes to draw the Bandits even, redirecting a feed from Ryan Mahshie past the blocker of Boisvert, and Lee dug out a rebound for a power-play goal 94 seconds later, giving the hosts all the offence they would need.
There was certainly no shortage of chances for Brooks to extend its lead over the final 40 minutes, including an Ottawa power play midway through the third period when Boisvert went to the bench with hopes of producing the tying goal.
But it remained a one-goal game through to the final minute, when the Jr. Senators finally hit double-digits in shots with one last flurry. There would be no equalizer, though, leaving Ottawa – which clinched a semifinal spot with Oakville’s win over Portage earlier Tuesday – with its second loss in as many nights.
Both teams will wrap up the preliminary round Thursday; Ottawa is up first, taking on the Oakville Blades (OJHL) (4:00PM ET), while the Bandits finish against the Prince George Spruce Kings (BCHL) in what is shaping up to be a first-place showdown (9:00PM ET).