BROOKS, AB (December 10, 2016) – The Brooks Bandits (24-3-4) moved into uncontested first place in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) on Saturday night, downing the visiting Sherwood Park Crusaders 5-1 on Teddy Bear Toss night at the Centennial Regional Arena.
Rookie forward Nic Hamre (Ottawa, ON) had two goals, including the opener, with captain Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, AB) chipping in two goals and an assist.
Hamre’s Teddy Bear Toss goal came off of a faceoff, at the 9:17 mark of the first period, when a Dennis Cesana (Providence, RI) point shot deflected off of Tyler Carangelo (Hamden, CT) and off Sherwood Park goalie Jake Morrissey; the rebound lay at the right side of the net, as Hamre drove to the front and swatted it in to send hundreds of Christmas toys flying from the stands onto the ice.
After a cleanup delay of less than 5 minutes, the toys were sent off to support the Scotiabank Smiles for Christmas campaign, benefitting local families in need.
Prkusic doubled the lead at the 14:18 mark when another Cesana point shot bounced to the end boards, where defenceman Kord Pankewicz (Drayton Valley, AB) flung a quick centering pass to the slot for the Bandit captain to one-time in for a 2-0 lead.
In the second, Ty Mappin (Big Valley, AB) snuck a shot past Morrissey from the left side of the net, threading the needle to give Brooks a 3-0 advantage. Just over seven minutes later, Prkusic notched his second of the night on a nifty setup by Mappin, who flung a pass from the slot to his linemate at the right circle, with another one-time shot beating Morrissey and giving Brooks the 4-0 advantage, chasing the Crusader goalie from the net.
With Zac Klassen between the pipes, the Crusaders kept Brooks off of the scoresheet for the rest of the period, and got their first goal of the game when Merritt Oszytko fired a shot in past goalie Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON) from the left circle on an odd man rush.
But in the third, the only goal came when Nathan Plessis (Salmon Arm, B.C.) carried into the Sherwood Park zone, stopped up at the right circle, and patiently put a pass perfectly across to Hamre, who one-timed a shot off Klassen and in to give Brooks the 5-1 final score.
The Bandits outshot Sherwood Park 36-31 in the game, going 0 for 2 on the power play but a perfect 4 for 4 on the penalty kill.
Now 2 points up on league second place Whitecourt with 4 games in hand, the Bandits will travel to Drumheller this coming Wednesday night for a rematch of this past Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime loss at the home of the rival Dragons. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM with pre-game coverage beginning at 6:45 on Real Country 105.7.