BROOKS, AB (December 16, 2017) – Donning intentionally hideous Christmas-themed jerseys with candy-cane striped numbers, the host Brooks Bandits (24-10-1) blew out the top-ranked team in the AJHL’s North division on Saturday night, beating the visiting Fort McMurray Oil Barons (25-5-2) by a 7-2 score in front of an announced crowd of 1,507 at the Centennial Regional Arena.
The win, combined with Okotoks’ 6-5 shootout loss to Drayton Valley, puts the Bandits 7 points out of first place in the AJHL South as they hit the Christmas break.
The Bandits outshot the Barons by a whopping 56-24 margin, including a 46-15 shot count through two periods. 13 players had at least one point, 6 of whom had multi-point efforts.
The Bandits opened the scoring at the 3:57 mark when Nolan Thompson (Calgary, AB) fed a diving pass from the far circle to a sneaking in Carter Wolski (Sexsmith, AB), whose low wrist shot beat Barons goalie Eric Szudor and went post-and-in to open the scoring.
But just over a minute later, the Barons converted on their first power play of the game when Shane Fraser tapped in a rebound of an Owen Reith shot to make it 1-1.
On the ensuing shift, Simon Boyko (Mississauga, ON) fired home a shot from the left circle on a 2-on-1 rush to restore the Bandit lead just 21 seconds after they’d lost it, with the home team never looking back from there. A Matt Cassidy (Medford, NJ) centering pass at 11:43 found Will Garin (Mound, MN) for a net front tip to make it 3-1, while Cale List (Petawawa, ON) fired a point shot in through a screen to give Brooks the 4-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
By the time the second period was 90 seconds done, the Bandits had extended the lead by two. First, Thompson recorded his second assist of the night when his centering pass from the end boards found a wide open Jake Theis (Chanhassen, MN) in the slot for a top-right corner one timer and a 5-1 lead. Just 15 seconds later, List fired the puck from the left half wall, and Cassidy tipped it by Szudor, with the puck sliding over the goal line to make it 6-1 and chase the Baron veteran from the net, as he gave way to rookie Chris Curr.
In the third, Brooks converted on the power play at 4:27 when Nic Hamre (Ottawa, ON) tipped home a Dennis Cesana (Providence, RI) point shot to make it 7-1. Fort McMurray drew closer with 1:24 left in the game when Peter Tomaras tapped in a rebound on another power play, but Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON) was otherwise perfect, making 22 saves on 24 shots for his league-leading 24th win of the year.
The Bandits will return from the Christmas break on Friday, December 29th hosting the Calgary Mustangs at 7:00 PM. Tickets are available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.