OKOTOKS, AB (August 27, 2015) – The goals came early and often for the Brooks Bandits (1-0) in their first game of the 2015 Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) preseason, as Brooks scored five times in the first, and three times in the second and third, en route to an 11-1 win over the Drumheller Dragons to open the Okotoks Oilers’ 4th Annual Pre-Season Tournament at the Pason Centennial Arena.
Returning forward Jeff Malott opened the scoring for the Bandits in the first period with a wrist shot on a two-on-one rush, with newcomers lighting the lamp in the first thereafter.
Off-season acquisition from the CCHL’s Brockville Braves Dylan McCrory doubled the lead on a setup from Shane Bear and Derek Lodermeier, while Austin Wright, the former Niagara Falls Canuck of the GOJHL, scored shorthanded to make it 3-0. Rookie forward Josh McKechney got the fourth, while 1999-born forward Leif Mattson made it 5-0 after one. Shots in the first were 18-3 in favour of the Bandits.
Despite a narrower shot lead of 10-5 in the second, Brooks extended the lead on goals by rookie Mike Falanga, as well as two more by Wright to complete his first Junior A hat trick.
In the third, Bear and Lodermeier continued their multi-point nights with goals, while Taylor Karel scored with less than half a minute left in the game on a long point shot to notch the 11-1 final score. Midway through the final frame, Drumheller veteran Tye Hand was ejected with a cross-checking match penalty after intentionally using his stick to strike Bandits forward Jared Cockrell in the face. The Bandits converted on the ensuing power play.
Shots in the third period were 14-3 for the Bandits, and 42-11 overall.
“I think our guys executed well today,” said Bandits head coach and general manager Ryan Papaioannou. “We had a good week of practice, and obviously it paid off, but I think we’re pretty humble in where we’re at.”
Sophomore defenceman Charlie Marchand led the way with 4 assists on the day, while Wright’s three goals tied him with Shane Bear and Taylor Karel, both of whom had a goal and two assists, for second on the scoresheet. In total, 14 of the 18 Bandit skaters registered at least one point.
“If anyone’s happy with an 11-1 win on day one of exhibition, we’re all in the wrong sport,” Papaioannou noted. “We need to improve on every part of our game, and there are lots of improvements that need to happen.”
“Tomorrow’s another day that we get to go out and work on our stuff.”
The Bandits will take on the Calgary Mustangs in Okotoks at 1:45 PM tomorrow, before completing the pre-season tournament with a Saturday night matchup with the host Oilers at 6:00.