Bandits celebrate 2022-23 Regular Season with Team Awards Ceremony

Photo by Sandra Stanway.

BROOKS, AB (February 26, 2023) – The 2022-23 Brooks Bandits Awards Ceremony was held prior to the final regular season home game.

Goaltender Ethan Barwick was named Most Valuable Player. The fourth-year Bandit set an AJHL record for Most Wins in One Season by a Goaltender with 44, which was achieved Saturday night. He has the best goals against average in the AJHL at 1.91, 6 shutouts, while carrying a 927 save percentage, the best in the South Division. He’s looking to become the first Bandit goaltender in history to win the AJHL’s Top Goaltender Award. The award was presented by Blaze and Bexton Wenzel on behalf of Shoppers Drug Mart.

Forward Heath Armstrong was named the Unsung Hero. The veteran forward has been a consummate pro on and off the ice with the Bandits, and is enjoying a career season with 56 points in 51 games, and is top five in AJHL even strength scoring. Off the ice, his leadership earned him two AJHL Award nominations, the RBC Community Ambassador Award, and the Guiseppe Greatest Teammate Award. He’s also a finalist for the AJHL’s Most Dedicated Player award. Julia Collin presented the award on behalf of Team FS.

Forward Caelan Fitzpatrick was named the Top Defensive Forward. This centre is having a terrific first season in Brooks, with 50 points in 49 games, scoring 24 goals, 18 of which were scored at even strength. A leader in the faceoff circle and penalty kill, this forward’s strong two-way game also earned him a spot on Team Canada West at the 2022 World Junior A Challenge. Diane Declerq presented the trophy on behalf of Ralph Chizik Holdings.

Defenceman Sam Court was named the Top Defenceman. The defender has 70 points, which leads all AJHL defenceman in scoring. He has won four AJHL weekly awards, three for defencemen of the week, one for rookie of the week. His 57 assists are third most by a Bandits defencemen in a single season in team history. Cole Smith of Smith Group presented the award.

Forward Hudson Malinoski and defenceman Sam Court were named co-winners of the Rookie of the Year Award. Malinoski is a finalist for the AJHL Rookie of the Year award. His 51 assists are second amongst rookies, while his 65 points are third amongst all rookies, 12th overall amongst all skaters. Court is second in rookie scoring in the AJHL with 70 points, while his 57 assists lead all rookies. This blueliner leads all defencemen in scoring, and is finalist for the AJHL Outstanding Defenceman Award. Ryan Hauck presented the award on behalf of Baker Hughes.

Forward Aiden Fink was named the Top All Around Forward. Fink leads the team and AJHL in scoring with 96 points. He was twice named the AJHL Player of the Month. He’s also a finalist for the AJHL MVP award and Top Forward award. Jim Bonora presented on behalf of Mario’s Electric.

Forwards Brendan Poshak and Hunter Wallace were named co-winners of the Team Hustler Award. Poshak has a career high 45 points through 54 games, and is fifth in team goal scoring with 24 tallies, only two of which came on the powerplay. He’s second in game winning goals in the AJHL. Wallace has 34 points this season despite missing 30 games due to injury. His 1.42 points per game average is 7th best in the AJHL. Darrell Cherniawsky presented on behalf of Smith Group.

Forward Aiden Fink was named the Top Scorer. The forward has a 1.85 points per game average; the highest in the league. He’s four points away from becoming just the fourth Bandit to reach 100 points in a single season. He’s looking to become the fifth Brooks Bandit to be crowned the AJHL Scoring Champion. Rylynn Hemsing presented the award on behalf of Smith Group.

Forward Dario Beljo was given the Most Game Stars Award. Beljo has 26 multi-point games this season. He’s currently fourth in AJHL scoring with 85 points, and has scored six game winners this season. He’s 5th in assists and 6th in points per game in the AJHL, and has led the team to another Regular Season Championship! Ken Fleury presented on behalf of Sportside Source for Sports.

Forward Elliot Dutil was named the Fan Favourite. Dutil is enjoying a terrific first season in Brooks, scoring 29 goals, which is 10th most in the AJHL. His goal celebrations and exciting play on the ice has made him a fan favourite. Not only that, but he was a leader in school visits, always putting his name on the sign-up sheet to visit schools around the region. Daylen Bergquist presented on behalf of Stitch FX.

Forward Nathan Free was named the Most Improved. This year’s winner is in his first season with the Bandits. Through 48 games, he has 35 points, which is 11th amongst all rookies in the AJHL. He’s scored three game winning goals this year, including a shootout winner in Blackfalds on December 13th. His play has earned him an NCAA Division I Commitment to Penn State. Angela DeBlasio presented the award on behalf of Kiwanis.

Forward Mikhail Simchuk was named the Bandit of the Month for February. Simchuk had a nine-game point streak in February. He had five goals and five assists, and scored the game winning goal in the 4-2 win over Okotoks. Cory Lindstrom of Ricky’s All Day Grill presented the award.

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to the presenters and sponsors of the awards.

The Bandits first two playoff games will be Friday, March 24th and Saturday, March 25th in Brooks.