BROOKS, AB (December 11, 2021) – TJ Hughes scored a hat trick, including the Teddy Bear Goal, and the Brooks Bandits earned their 11th straight win, beating the Spruce Grove Saints 5-3 on Saturday at the Centennial Regional Arena in front of 1,404 fans.
Hughes (Mercyhurst) scored the Teddy Bear Goal at 8:25 of the 1st period, with all bears thrown on the ice being donated to the Scotiabank Smiles for Christmas campaign. The win improves the Bandits record to 31-1-1, as they have not lost in regulation in 31 games.
Photo: Em Duncan
The Teddy Bear goal was the Bandits first on the Saints net, as Hughes tipped a Ryan McAllister (Western Michigan) shot to make it 1-0. However, Spruce Grove would tie four minutes later as forward Caiden Gault had the puck come to him in the left circle and he fired it past Bandits starter Ethan Barwick to make it 1-1. Shots were 13-13 in the 1st.
Brooks would get a five-minute powerplay following a Brophy Dunne major for kneeing, and Hughes would get his second of the night, finishing a cross ice pass from Dario Beljo to give Brooks the 2-1 lead at 5:37. Hughes completed the natural hat trick at 16:25 from the right circle on a setup from McAllister to increase the lead to 3-1. However, the Saints got one back, as forward Luigi Benincasa got his own rebound and went right shelf less than a minute after the Hughes goal to cut the lead to 3-2. Shots 17-6 Brooks in the period.
Bandits forward Noah Hackett (Niagara) doubled the lead to 4-2 at the 3:50 mark of the 3rd, taking a no-look pass from McAllister and scoring left shelf for his first as a Bandit, and on his birthday. Spruce Grove got one back at 14:28 as forward Nikola Jovanovic had the puck come to him on a clearing attempt and he scored to cut the lead to 4-3. However, Saints forward Brett Pfoh was called for a major after charging Nic DeGraves, and the Bandits went back on the powerplay. Beljo scored from the net front, shelving the puck to make it 5-3, the final. Shots in the 3rd were 17-3 Brooks, and 47-23 overall.
The Bandits next game is Friday, December 17 when the travel to Olds to face the Grizzlys at 7:00 pm, live on Real Country 105.7 FM. The final home game before Christmas is Saturday, December 18 when they host the Drumheller Dragons at 7:00 pm.