BROOKS, AB (March 5, 2016) – Jesse Pereira (Fort Erie, ON) had a hat trick, while Josh Davies (Guelph, ON) registered his league-leading 31st win of the season, as the Brooks Bandits (49-9-2) finished the 2015-16 regular season with a 6-3 home win over the Calgary Mustangs in front of 1,619 fans at the Centennial Regional Arena on Saturday night.
Prior to the game, the near-capacity crowd gave a standing ovation to Bob and Wendy Crosby, parents of former Bandit Nick Crosby, who travelled to Brooks from Idaho to present the annual Nick Crosby Memorial Award, which was won this year by sophomore forward Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, AB).
The Bandits found themselves behind early in the game, when a two-on-one rush for Calgary led to a Jordan Xavier goal just 1:12 in. But with just over two minutes left in the opening frame, a Dylan McCrory (Kirkland, PQ) drop-back pass found Cale Makar (Calgary, AB) in the high slot of the Calgary zone, who sped past a Mustang defender and flicked the puck past goalie Ryan Ternes to tie the game up.
In the second, the Bandits began the period on the penalty kill, but took their first lead only 49 seconds in when a Jesse Pereira shorthanded shot from the slot on a turnover found the top right corner perfectly. At the 5:45 mark, a hit thrown by Jeff Malott (Waterdown, ON) jarred a puck free to McCrory at the Mustang blue line, who returned the puck to Malott alone in front of the Calgary net, with a quick backhand shot that made it a 3-1 Brooks advantage.
The Mustangs clawed back to within one with just under five minutes to go in the middle frame, with their second goal also coming on the rush when Mike Sauer tipped in an Anthony Orubor centering pass to make it 3-2.
Calgary then tied the game just 61 seconds into the third, with the same line converting, this time Xavier finding Orubor on a pass from the side of the net to the front, with a quick shot beating Davies from point blank range to make it 3-3.
But the Bandits replied on the very next shift, when a Ty Mappin (Big Valley, AB) centering pass deflected off a Mustang stick to Logan Mick (Vernon, B.C.) at the bottom of the right circle, whose quick backhander beat Ternes for Mick’s third goal in his last four games, and the eventual game-winner.
Two more goals came from Pereira’s stick to notch the hat trick; the first a centering feed from Tristan Thompson (Canmore, AB) from the left corner that Pereira quickly shot into the back of the Mustang net from the top of the crease, and the second a similar play as a Jared Cockrell (Byfield, MA) centering feed found Pereira in front of the net, and while off-balance, the Bandit forward manage to fling a backhander top shelf to register the 6-3 final score.
The Bandits will now take 13 days off, having clinched first place in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) South division and thus a first round playoff bye, before returning for games 1 and 2 of the South Division Semi-Final, tentatively scheduled for March 18th and 19th at the CRA.
Shoppers Drug Mart Player of the Game: #19 Jesse Pereira
Boston Pizza Hardest Working Bandit: #21 Dylan McCrory