BROOKS, AB (February 20, 2016) – The Brooks Bandits (46-7-2) registered their eleventh consecutive win on Saturday night, pulling away after an early 1st period deficit for a 10-2 home win over the visiting Grande Prairie Storm in front of 1,459 fans at the Centennial Regional Arena.
It was the fifth time this season the Bandits have reached double digits in goals.
With the win, coupled with a Spruce Grove overtime loss, the Bandits matched the Saints in standings points for first overall in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), with a game in hand.
The Storm pressed hard early in the game, registering the first seven shots on goal of the game and the first goal, an Ian McLellan shot from the right corner that snuck through Josh Davies’ (Guelph, ON) pads on the first Grande Prairie power play, to make it 1-0 for the visitors.
But Landon Welykholowa (Calgary, AB) scored twice before the period was out; the first a power play rebound goal with just over five minutes left, and the second a tip of a Shane Bear (Calgary, AB) point shot with just 2 seconds left in the period.
A 13-12 Bandit shot lead in the first gave way to a 24-7 Bandit advantage in a dominant second, as the home side added five more goals to pull away. Jesse Pereira (Fort Erie, ON) snapped a loose puck in from the slot at 5:07, but Welykholowa was called for a roughing penalty immediately thereafter, sending the Storm to the man advantage. The Bandits not only killed off the penalty, but found Welykholowa fresh out of the box for a breakaway backhand goal and a 4-1 Brooks lead.
Ty Mappin (Big Valley, AB) next deflected a Joe O’Connor (Hamden, CT) point shot to make it 5-1, while Cale Makar dangled his way to the left side of the Storm net and wristed a puck off of goalie Tate Sproxton and in to make it 6-1. Finally, Jared Cockrell converted on a wraparound goal at the 16:20 mark for his team-leading 33rd goal of the year to make it 7-1 after two.
In the third, the Bandits kept the pressure on with an 18-7 shot lead, for a 55-26 game total. But it was an inauspicious start to the frame, as Storm defenceman Mark Nerland dropped his gloves and attacked Bandit leading scorer Dylan McCrory. With fighting and instigating penalties assessed to the Storm, and a roughing minor to McCrory, the Bandits went onto a major power play, and converted at the 4:47 mark with Mappin’s second of the game on a 2-on-1 rush where #37 dragged the puck around a sliding defender, into the slot, and snapped the puck glove side on Sproxton for an 8-1 lead.
Just over two minutes later, Kyler Nachtigall (Calgary, AB) swept a puck in from the right circle for a 9-1 advantage. The Storm responded with a Jake Elmer deflection goal at 11:49, but the Bandits had the last laugh with Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, AB) backhanding a puck in from the slot at 14:27 to notch the 10-2 final score.
The Bandits went 2 for 4 on the power play and 3 for 4 on the penalty kill, as 13 of 18 Bandit skaters recorded at least one point.
Brooks will next hit the road for a north division swing to Sherwood Park on Friday night followed by Lloydminster on Saturday. Friday’s game with the Crusaders begins at 7:00 PM, with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:45 PM on Q105.7.
Shoppers Drug Mart Player of the Game: #9 Landon Welykholowa
Boston Pizza Hardest Working Bandit: #4 Tristan Thompson