BROOKS, AB (December 17, 2016) – The Brooks Bandits (27-3-4) capped off their pre-Christmas schedule with a 4-1 home win over the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Saturday night, in front of a season-high 1,410 fans at the Centennial Regional Arena.
The win keeps the Bandits in first place in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), 4 points up on second-place Whitecourt with 4 games in hand; it was the team's fifth consecutive win and its 20th straight without a regulation loss.
The Bandits opened the scoring off of an offensive zone faceoff just 2:34 into the game when a Dennis Cesana (Providence, RI) point shot beat Fort McMurray goalie Eric Szudor through traffic, extending Cesana’s goal scoring streak to three games.
Just under three minutes later, Kord Pankewicz (Drayton Valley, AB) poked a puck free at the Oil Baron blue line, deflecting it to Oliver Chau (Oakville, ON) who fed a pass in front to Ty Mappin (Big Valley, AB), whose deflection beat Szudor and doubled the Brooks lead.
Then, on the Bandits’ first power play of the game, Chau set up another goal, this time centering a puck from the right corner to captain Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, AB) in the slot, who wired a puck off the post and in to give Brooks the 3-0 advantage.
The Bandits outshot the Oil Barons 13-10 in the first, and then a whopping 18-9 in the second, but despite breakaways from both Parker Foo (Edmonton, AB) and Cale Makar (Calgary, AB), couldn’t extend the lead.
In the third, Mappin got his second of the game on the team’s second power play when he fired a shot from the right circle over the glove of Szudor and into the back of the Baron net to give the Bandits a 4-goal cushion.
Former Bandit forward Hayden Ursulak (Calgary, AB) got one back with a wrister from the slot at 6:15, but it was the only blemish on another great night for goalie Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON), who stopped 26 of 27 Fort McMurray shots for his fourth consecutive win and sixteenth overall.
The Bandits outshot Fort McMurray 38 to 27 in the game, going 2 for 3 on the power play and a perfect 3 for 3 on the penalty kill. They’ll return to action New Year’s Eve at the CRA, hosting the Olds Grizzlys at 7:00 PM, with tickets available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.