BROOKS, AB (January 1, 2016) – The Brooks Bandits (28-6-2) began the 2016 calendar year with their biggest offensive output of the season, downing the visiting Olds Grizzlys (14-20-2) by a 12-2 score in front of 1,464 fans at the Centennial Regional Arena on Friday night.
The Bandits, behind hat tricks from both Kyler Nachtigall (Calgary, AB) and Jeff Malott (Waterdown, ON), moved 7 points up on the Camrose Kodiaks for first place in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) South division, with one extra game played. They also moved six points back of Spruce Grove for the league’s first overall standing, with three games in hand on the Saints.
Prior to the game, the Bandits congratulated and honoured returning defencemen Cale Makar (Calgary, AB) and Shane Bear (Calgary, AB), who won gold with Team Canada West at the recent World Junior A Challenge. Makar returned to the lineup while Bear was held out for an additional game due to illness.
Brooks struck thrice in the first period; the first a Malott goal just 61 seconds in on a top shelf wrist shot from the left-wing faceoff circle. Jesse Pereira danced his way out from the right corner to the slot at 7:03 and fired a quick wrist shot past Kurtis Chapman to make it 2-0, before Nachtigall notched his first, the eventual game-winner, fresh off the bench when captain Derek Lodermeier (Brooklyn Center, MN) flung a puck to him from the end boards; Nachtigall was untouched at the top of the crease and tucked a backhander around a sprawling Chapman for a 3-0 Bandits lead, in a period in which the home side had a 17-7 shot advantage.
The Bandits turned on the jets in the second period, outshooting Olds 21-7 and recording a whopping six more goals. Nachtigall scored his second just 2:16 in on a low five-hole shot from the slot, set up by a Ty Mappin (Big Valley, AB) centering pass. Lodermeier made it 4-0 just over a minute later on the power play on a quick wrister from the slot off the rush, before Landon Kletke responded for Olds with a close range shot at 3:46, beating Jonny Reinhart (Cambridge, ON) to make the score 4-1.
But Nachtigall completed his hat trick at the 9:04 mark on a sharp-angle shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle set up by Landon Welykholowa (Calgary, AB) to reclaim the four goal cushion and chase Chapman from the game. Then it was Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, AB) at 13:56, with a wrist shot from the right circle, who was able to make it 7-1, beating relief goalie Ben Giesbrecht. Jeff Malott scored on a spinning wrist shot from the slot off a rush at 16:08, before Pereira scored his second with 1 second remaining in the middle frame on a long slapshot from the right point to make it 9-1 after 2.
Brooks added three more in the third period, all on the power play; Prkusic’s second at 9:25 on a wrist shot from the right circle was followed up by Malott’s hat trick goal at 11:14 on a backdoor one-timer set up by Josh McKechney with a cross-crease pass.
On the ensuing shift, Bandit defenceman Jarrod Gourley (Calgary, AB) threw a hard hit at the Grizzly end boards; the rookie was called for a penalty but was jumped by Grizzly forward Wyatt Noskey, yet handily won his first fight in the AJHL with a couple of quick right hands.
On the ensuing Bandit power play thanks to the instigator penalty, Jared Cockrell took only 20 seconds to snipe the final Bandits goal from the right hash marks to make it 12-1. Olds made it slightly closer with Kletke’s second of the game on a close range power play shot with 2:33 left in the third.
The game saw the Bandits’ highest goal total of the season, and was the fourth time Brooks had reached double digits in goals this season, adding to an 11-2 win in Canmore, 10-2 win in Olds, and 10-1 win over Sherwood Park.
With the win, the Bandits extended their win streak to 10, and extended reigning player of the month Jeff Malott’s point streak to 14 games, with 9 goals and 17 assists in that span for the Bandit alternate captain.
The two teams play their rematch tomorrow night in Olds at 7:00 PM, with pre-game coverage starting at 6:45 on Q105.7.
Shoppers Drug Mart Player of the Game: #20 Kyler Nachtigall
Boston Pizza Hardest Working Bandit: #15 Nick Prkusic