BANDITS BLANK COBRAS, ADVANCE TO RBC CUP FINAL
JASON LA ROSE
COBOURG, Ont. – Mitch Benson turned away all 28 shots he faced for his second shutout of the tournament, backstopping the Brooks Bandits into the championship game at the 2017 RBC Cup with a 4-0 semifinal win over the Cobras de Terrebonne on Saturday night.
The Bandits will take on the host Cobourg Cougars in the final on Sunday (5:30 p.m. ET, TSN 3/5). Cobourg had the edge in the preliminary round, winning 5-2 on Thursday night.
Benson made nine saves in each of the first two periods, and stopped 10 in the third. He has been lights out for the Bandits, winning all four of his starts and posting a 0.99 goals-against average and .961 save percentage. With 60 perfect minutes against the Cobras, his personal shutout streak sits at 165 minutes and 27 seconds.
Nick Prkusic led the offence with a goal and an assist for Brooks, which exercised the demons of 2016; the Bandits fell in the national semis a year ago, and have lost just 11 times in 83 games since then.
The teams combined for seven first-period goals when they met last Saturday in the tournament opener, but there would be no offensive fireworks with a spot in the national final on the line; Tyler Carangelo had the lone goal of the opening frame, beating Terrebonne goaltender Jérémy Bélisle on the blocker side to give Brooks the 1-0 lead less than five minutes in.
Just past the midway mark of the second period, Prkusic intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and carried deep into Terrebonne territory before finding Ty Mappin, who beat Bélisle from the low slot to make it a two-goal advantage.
Brooks kept up the pressure in the third, directing 18 more shots at Bélisle and adding a pair of power-play goals.
Joe O’Connor was first at 4:36, hammering a one-timer past Bélisle, and Prkusic got a wrist shot from the point through bodies and past the Cobras netminder to finish the scoring at 7:53.
Brooks is in search of its second RBC Cup title; it claimed Canada’s National Junior A Championship in 2013, beating the host Summerside Western Capitals 3-1 in the final.