BROOKS, AB (December 7, 2018) – William Lemay (Marieville, QC) sent hundreds of teddy bears flying onto the ice at the Centennial Regional Arena, as his goal led the Brooks Bandits (28-3) to a 4-1 win over the Canmore Eagles on Friday on Teddy Bear Toss night.
The win extended the Bandits’ lead for first place in the AJHL to 8 points over Bonnyville and Sherwood Park.
For the first time in more than five years, the Bandits had to wait until the second period for the teddy bear goal, as two post hits by Andranik Armstrong (Alexandria, VA) on a wrister from the left circle and Jordan Di Cicco (London, ON) on a wrist shot from just above that circle were the best chances of the opening frame. But Canmore goalie Thomas Davis was perfect, making 13 saves as the visiting Eagles were outshot 13-6.
A scoreboard failure just under halfway through the first period gave the game an extended delay, with the timekeepers’ booth forced to keep manual time and announce it over the public address system for the remainder of the game.
Brooks finally broke through 3:06 into the second, with the Bandits killing off a double minor spearing penalty assessed to captain Nathan Plessis (Salmon Arm, B.C.). A stretch pass from Di Cicco found Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, ON) at the opposing blue line on a 2-on-1 rush. He fed a pass perfectly across to Lemay, who cut in on goal and backhanded the puck five hole on Davis to send stuffed toys all over the ice.
Girls from the local Prairie Thunder minor hockey teams helped to clean up the bears in record time, with the hundreds of toys being donated to Brooks Food Bank patrons through the Scotiabank Smiles for Christmas program.
Brooks doubled the lead on a power play of their own at the 16:34 mark when Di Cicco again fired a perfect pass to the Canmore line, finding Simon Gravel (Boucherville, QC) on a breakaway. He flipped the puck from forehand to backhand and tucked it around the extended right pad of Davis to make it 2-0.
In the third, the Bandits were beneficiaries of a turnover to Simon Boyko (Mississauga, ON), as the second year Bandit fed a pass from the right side of the net through the crease for Armstrong to one-time home to make it 3-0 Bandits.
Canmore finally solved the dilemma of Pierce Charleson (Aurora, ON) when Colton Young sniped a short side wrister from the left side of the Bandit net at 13:32 to get Canmore on the board and make it 3-1. But it would be the only blemish for the Bandit netminder, who made 22 saves on 23 shots to seal his league-leading 23rd win.
Less than a minute after Canmore’s first, Boyko again set up a key Brooks goal, firing a pass from the left circle to Taylor Makar (Calgary, AB) at the right side of the net for a backdoor one-timer to notch the 4-1 score.
The Bandits outshot Canmore 40-23 in the game, going 1 for 7 on the power play and a perfect 4 for 4 on the penalty kill.
They’ll travel to Calgary on Saturday night for a matchup with the Calgary Canucks, aiming to extend their win streak to five. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:45 on Real Country 105.7 with puck drop at 7 PM.