BROOKS, AB (October 15, 2016) – Brooks Bandits (8-2-2) captain Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, AB) had three goals and an assist on Saturday night to lead his team to a 4-2 home win over the Grande Prairie Storm (5-6-1) at the Centennial Regional Arena.
The performance – Prkusic’s first career AJHL hat trick and second-ever four-point game – placed the Bandits just one point behind the Calgary Canucks for first place in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) South division with a game in hand on the division leaders.
Seeking their fourth straight win, the Bandits were repeatedly stymied in the first period by spectacular saves from Grande Prairie goalie Arik Weersink, as a whopping 15-3 shot lead in the opening 20 minutes led simply to a scoreless affair.
But the Bandits broke through in the second on a misplay by the Storm netminder, as a pass by Weersink behind his own net was picked off by Tyler Nyman (Centerville, MN) and centered to Prkusic before Weersink could return to the net; the eventual one-timer found the wide open cage and gave Brooks the 1-0 advantage.
But just over halfway through the period, Jake Elmer tied things up, firing a loose puck past Alex Horawski (Toronto, ON) from the left hashmarks to make it 1-1. Prkusic’s natural hat trick was completed soon after, as he reclaimed the Bandit lead just over two minutes after the tying goal on a sensational play. Josh McKechney (Calgary, AB) fed the puck from the right corner to Prkusic streaking towards the net; the Bandit captain cut around a defender and then worked the puck from his backhand around a sprawling Weersink, tucking a forehand shot into the Storm net for a 2-1 lead.
Prkusic then sent headgear from many of the more than 1,200 in attendance flying onto the ice at the 17:39 mark of the middle frame, when he collected the puck behind the Storm net, skated to the right side of the cage, and fired a spinning backhand shot top shelf to give Brooks the 3-1 lead.
In the third, Oliver Chau (Oakville, ON) collected his team-leading ninth power play goal when a Prkusic shot from the high slot caught Weersink and rolled to the crease behind the goalie for a quick poke check goal for the Bandit rookie and the captain’s fourth point on the assist.
Grande Prairie drew closer with 5:03 left when Michael Clarke fired a shot from the left circle past Horawski, but it was too little, too late, as the Bandits held on for the 4-2 win.
Alex Horawski made 15 saves for the win while Weersink stopped 38 of 42 shots in the loss; Brooks went 1 for 7 on the power play while the Storm went 1 for 5.
The Bandits have a full week off before their next game, Sunday October 23rd in Calgary against the Mustangs at 7:00 PM.