BROOKS, AB (January 1, 2019) – The Brooks Bandits (35-3) kicked off 2019 with a bang, dominating from start to finish in a 7-2 home victory over the Okotoks Oilers in front of a packed house of 1,617 at the Centennial Regional Arena.
The win was the eleventh in a row for Brooks, which moved to 18-0 at the CRA this season.
Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, ON) opened the scoring just 65 seconds in when his wrist shot from the right circle ricocheted off the shoulder of Okotoks goalie Nick Sanders and into the net. With just over five minutes left in the frame, Ryan Mahshie (Stoney Creek, ON) quickly reversed course behind the Oiler net and centered the puck to a waiting Ray Christy (St. Paul, MN) in front of the net, who one-timed the puck past Sanders to give Brooks a 2-0 advantage after a first period in which they outshot the visitors 16-8.
In the second, Christy returned the favour to Mahshie, centering the puck from the end wall to his waiting linemate for a quick goal just 3:55 in. Quinn Olson scored on a rebound at 10:16 on a delayed penalty to pull the Oilers within two, but just 13 seconds later, Mahshie found Christy in front of the net again for a point blank backhander goal and a 4-1 lead.
At the 14:49 mark, William Lemay (Marieville, QC) was denied on a breakaway, but got the puck back to Nick Hale (Raleigh, NC) at the left point, who blasted a slap shot by Sanders to make it 5-1 and chase the Oiler starter from the net, as he was replaced by backup Brady Parker.
In the third, Zane Kindrachuk deflected a puck past Pierce Charleson (Aurora, ON) on a Louis Jamernik centering pass to make it a 5-2 game. But it would be the final blemish on Charleson’s night, as he recorded his league-leading 27th win with a 28-save performance.
With an early empty net, Lemay backhanded home the insurance goal from the red line at 17:32, before Randy Hernandez (Miami, FL) carried in on the rush in the final minute and centered to Mahshie, who wired home a wrister for his second of the game to notch the 7-2 final score.
The Bandits outshot Okotoks 30-29 in the game, going a perfect 2 for 2 on the penalty kill, though they were not awarded a power play as Okotoks tied the AJHL record for fewest penalty minutes in a game with zero.
Brooks heads to Drumheller on Friday night to begin a home and home series, hosting their closest geographical rivals on Saturday night at the CRA. Tickets for Saturday can be purchased online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.