BROOKS, AB (January 1, 2018) – Nathan Plessis (Salmon Arm, BC) had two goals in his return to the lineup from suspension, as the Brooks Bandits (27-10-1) got the best of the Canmore Eagles (17-19-2) for the second straight game, downing their South rivals 6-2 in front of a crowd of 1,365 on New Year’s Day at the Centennial Regional Arena.
The win extends the Bandits’ league-leading win streak to eleven games, moving them to within 5 points of the South division-leading Okotoks Oilers, with Okotoks holding a game in hand. It also featured the return to the lineup of veteran defenceman Shane Bear (Calgary, AB), who returned from the NCAA ranks for his first Junior A game since the 2016 Western Canada Cup.
Brooks opened the scoring 3:44 into the game when a centering pass from Jake Theis (Chanhassen, MN) at the right halfboards found a streaking-in Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, ON) in the slot, who fired a quick wrister by goalie Thomas Davis. Brooks doubled the lead at 12:46 when Louis Jamernik (Calgary, AB) was robbed by Davis on a sprawling pad save of a point blank shot, but Plessis collected the puck at the end wall and banked it off the skate of Davis and into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Before the period was out, however, a Trevor Van Steinburg shot ricocheted off of a Bandit skate and past Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON) to cut the deficit in half, having outshot the Bandits 16-14 in the opening frame.
In the second, however, the Bandits outshot Canmore 18-7 and scored four more goals, with the first three coming in the span of just four minutes. First, Luke Bast (Red Deer, AB) fired the eventual game-winning goal in from the ringette line, before Simon Boyko (Mississauga, ON) sped in along the left side and cut to the front of the net on a partial breakaway, tucking a low shot by Davis at 3:20. At 5:50, Plessis got his second of the game, jamming home a backhand shot after Jamernik won a battle down low and fed a centering pass to him. Finally, Boyko fired a perfect pass from the left corner to Theis at the right side of the net for a backdoor one-timer goal at 18:35 to make it 6-1.
Jake Ashton scored on a backdoor tap in nine minutes into the third, but it would be as close as the Eagles would get, as Benson made 29 saves on the afternoon for his league-leading 27th win as well.
The Bandits will next head to Okotoks to take on the first-place Oilers on Friday night, in the final regular season meeting between the two teams. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM with pre-game coverage starting at 6:45 on Real Country 105.7.