SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - The Brooks Bandits will play in the championship final during their debut year at the RBC Cup.
Mark Reners scored his second goal of the game 8:30 into overtime to lift the Bandits past the Minnesota Wilderness 5-4 at the national junior A hockey championship Saturday.
The overtime goal completed Brooks' comeback from a 4-2 third-period deficit that included Dakota Mason's tying goal from behind the Wilderness net with just 18.7 seconds left in regulation.
Brooks will play either the Surrey Eagles or Summerside Western Capitals in the final Sunday.
R.J. Reed assisted on Reners' overtime goal and also scored two of his own for Brooks.
Jordan Shockley, Conrad Sampair, Mike Dietrich and Nick McCormack had the goals for Minnesota, which erupted for four goals in just under 16 minutes in the second period to take a two-goal lead to the third.
The Wilderness were set to become the second No. 4 seed in as many years to beat the top team in the semifinals, after Woodstock topped Humboldt in overtime last year.
The Bandits scored the lone goal of the first period when Reners took a pretty touch pass from Taylor Makin and beat Minnesota netminder Gordy Defiel, who was caught going the wrong way.
It only took 44 seconds for the Wilderness to tie the game and take the lead early in the second period. Shockley finished off a two-on-one with Jeremy Johnson, going high over the glove of Brooks goaltender Michael Fredrick, before Sampair drove the Bandits net and redirected a centring feed from Jake Larson past Fredrick.
Reed tied the game on a Brooks power play at 13:13, but Dietrich and McCormack scored late in the second period to give the Central Region champions a surprising two-goal lead heading to the final 20 minutes.
Once again it was Reed who scored a big goal for the Bandits, firing another shot past Defiel on another Brooks power play to set up the dramatic finish.
With Fredrick on the bench for an extra attacker and the Bandits buzzing, Defiel made a save to his right that pulled him out of position. The puck found its way to Mason, who blindly threw the puck in front of the Minnesota net, finding the skate of a Wilderness defender and tying the game with 18.7 seconds on the clock.