CAMROSE, AB (December 5, 2021) – TJ Hughes scored a hat trick and also made history as the Brooks Bandits picked up their ninth straight win, beating the Camrose Kodiaks 7-3 on Sunday at Encana Arena.
Hughes’ first goal of the game was his 30th of the season, which he accomplished in his 31st game, the fastest to 30 in team history. Goaltender Ethan Barwick made 24 saves as the Bandits haven’t lost in regulation on the road this season and have also not lost in regulation in 29 straight games.
Camrose opened the scoring on a two-on-one rush just 2:38 into the game, as forward Roc Truman finished a pass to put Brooks behind by one. But Brendan Poshak (Northern Michigan) found linemate Nic DeGraves open in the left circle who then passed to defenceman Zach Bookman (Merrimack) for the tap-in to tie the game 1-1 at 8:33. Then at 10:11, forward Ryan McAllister (Western Michigan) threw a puck towards the Camrose net, and Hughes tipped in his 30th of the season, becoming the fastest Bandit ever to reach the milestone, doing so in 31 games. The record 35 games set by Mark Reners in 2011-12.
Brooks extended their lead to 3-1 at 13:35 as McAllister made a no-look pass from behind the net to Hughes, who knocked in his 2nd of the game. Brooks wasn’t done, as forward Dario Beljo finished off drop-pass from Bookman in the left circle on the powerplay with under three minutes to go in the period to make it 4-1. Shots were 15-12 Kodiaks in the period.
The Kodiaks cut the lead to 4-2 at the 2:59 mark of the 2nd period as Connor Gourley tipped a Ryan Sullivan point shot. But less than two minutes later, defenceman Josh Zinger (Northern Michigan) zipped a left circle shot into the Kodiak net to make it 5-2, his goal as a Bandit. Noah Hackett also made the pass to Zinger for his first point as a Bandit. A minute later, Bandits forward Aiden Fink (Wisconsin) made a stretch pass to forward Jack Seymour (Holy Cross), who scored on a breakaway to make it 6-2 Brooks. Despite Kodiaks forward Griffen Fraser scoring from the right circle to cut the lead to 6-3 at 12:52, Hughes would complete the hat trick with 37 seconds to go in the period, throwing a puck on net from a sharp angle and trickling behind Camrose starter Spencer Welke to make it 7-3. Shots were 9-5 Brooks.
The 3rd period was scoreless, with the Kodiaks outshooting Brooks 7-6. The shots ended in a 27-27 tie.
Postgame comments from TJ Hughes:
The Bandits will play two home games next weekend, hosting the Sherwood Park Crusaders on Friday, December 10 at 7:00 pm. That’s followed by a showdown with the Spruce Grove Saints on Saturday, December 11, which is also the Annual Teddy Bear Toss game. All stuffed animals thrown on the ice following the first Bandits goal will benefit the Scotiabank Smiles for Christmas Campaign. Game time is also 7:00 pm.