Hicks makes 30 saves as Bandits defeat Crusaders 2-1 in Friday night nailbiter

Credit: Davin Beer

BROOKS, AB (November 3, 2023) – It was a goaltender battle on Friday night, as the Brooks Bandits needed just two goals to edge the Sherwood Park Crusaders 2-1 at the Centennial Regional Arena.

Goaltender Johnny Hicks (Kamloops, BC) made a season-high 30 saves, while Erick Roest made 37 for Sherwood Park. The Bandits (16-3) have reclaimed 1st place in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, moving one point ahead of Blackfalds.

The Bandits got off to a hot start, as forward Mirko Buttazzoni (Langley, BC) forced a Crusaders turnover in their own zone and waited out Roest, scoring on the forehand to make it 1-0 Brooks just 55 seconds into the game. Brooks had a chance to double the lead quickly, but defenceman Quinn McCall (St. John, IN) hit a cross bar. The Bandits doubled the lead at 8:58, as forward Caelan Fitzpatrick (Moose Jaw, SK) completed a give-and-go passing play with linemate Hunter Wallace (Oak Lake, MB), scoring off the rush to make it 2-0. The assist was Wallace’s 100th career AJHL point. Sherwood Park got one back at 13:36, as Zac Maxwell tapped in a Cade Christenson left circle shot to cut the lead to 2-1. Brooks outshot Sherwood Park 11-9.

Forwards Parker Lalonde (Aberdeen, SK) and Jordan Hughesman (Winnipeg, MB) had chances to score off the rush in the 2nd, but couldn’t solve Roest.

Sherwood Park’s Ryan Zaremba had a breakaway chance in the 3rd period, but was stopped by Hicks. Crusaders forward Diego Johnson was given a five-minute major for a blow to the head penalty on Nic DeGraves at the 18:22 mark, which reduced any chance of a comeback.

Final shots were 39-31 Brooks. The Bandits have never lost to the Crusaders at the CRA, improving to 18-0 all-time.=

The Bandits are back in action on Saturday, November 4th, when they host the Camrose Kodiaks. Game time is 7:00 pm.