BROOKS, AB (January 13, 2016) – In front of a Wednesday night crowd of just under 1,500, the Brooks Bandits (32-6-2) of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) sent fans home happy with their 14th consecutive win, 4-1 over the Olds Grizzlys at the Centennial Regional Arena.
The night was the Bandits’ first-ever “Wild Wednesday” promotion, with discounted tickets, beer, food, and merchandise helping to lead to a midweek crowd several hundred higher than average in years past, and a 50/50 pot that climbed above the $7,000 mark for the second consecutive game.
It was a dominant opening 69 seconds for Brooks, which garnered the opening goal on the game’s first shift. Defenceman Shane Bear (Calgary, AB) flung a puck in front of the Grizzly net from the right corner, which was tipped by rookie forward Parker Foo (Edmonton, AB) past goaltender Ben Giesbrecht to make it 1-0 in Foo’s first game since December 19th.
The Bandits doubled their lead at the 1:09 mark right off of an offensive zone faceoff, as Cale Makar (Calgary, AB) dropped back a pass from the side of the Grizzly net to Jeff Malott (Waterdown, ON), whose quick one-timer from just below the left hashmarks made it 2-0.
The Grizzlys, despite taking nearly a full ten minutes to get their first shot on goal, responded with just over three minutes left in the opening frame. Wyatt Noskey found himself on a breakway, but had his backhand shot stopped by a sprawling Bandit goaltender in Garret Hughson (Foremost, AB). But Chase Olsen followed up the play, firing the loose puck top shelf to get Olds on the board.
The Bandits outshot Olds by a narrower 15-8 margin in the first compared to the second, where the home side had a whopping 20-4 advantage, despite Olds getting all three power plays in that period. But neither team found the back of the net, with the best chance going late in the period to Tyr Thompson of Olds, whose one-timer from the slot just barely missed for the tying goal.
In the third, Brooks fired an incredible 30 shots on Ben Giesbrecht, and it took until nearly 60 shots total before the Bandits broke through. Olds captain Jack Goranson turned the puck over at the right point to Jesse Pereira (Fort Erie, ON), who had a two-on-one down low with Malott. Pereira fired the puck off the far pad of Giesbrecht, and the rebound came right to Malott for a one-time rebound goal and a 3-1 lead.
The Grizzlys pulled their goaltender with just over two minutes left in the game, but the Bandits quickly capitalized when Landon Welykholowa (Calgary, AB) chased the puck down in the Grizzlys’ right corner, and swept it to the high slot for Malott, who deposited it into the yawning cage to complete his hat trick.
The Bandits outshot the Grizzlys 65-20 on the night, going 0 for 2 on the power play and a perfect 3 for 3 on the penalty kill. With the win, Brooks extended its division lead over the Camrose Kodiaks to 7 points, and sits just 5 points back of Spruce Grove for first overall, with 3 games in hand.
Brooks is back in action Friday night, hosting the Okotoks Oilers at 7:00 PM in the first game of another home-and-home weekend series. Tickets are available at tickets.brooksbandits.ca, by phone at (403) 501-0122, or in person at the Centennial Regional Arena.
Shoppers Drug Mart Player of the Game: #11 Jeff Malott
Boston Pizza Hardest Working Bandit: #3 Charlie Marchand