BY RUSS ULLYOT
COURTESY OF CRAG AND CANYON – SUN MEDIA
The Canmore Eagles weren’t just robbed on their season opener Friday night, but helped the burglars clean out the house.
The Brooks Bandits scored four power-play goals and three shorthanded markers en route to an 11-2 win on opening night of the 2015-16 Alberta Junior Hockey season.
“It definitely wasn’t an 11-2 game,” said Andrew Milne, Eagles general manager and head coach. “We started a midget AA goaltender (Hunter Virostek) and unfortunately they picked him apart. We (also) took a stupid penalty (double spearing minor to Lane Olson late in the second period) at a bad time.”
Jeff Malott, who scored just six goals in 53 games last season for Brooks, recorded a hat trick and added two assists in the lop-sided encounter before 537 fans at the Canmore Recreation Centre.
Also scoring for Brooks were Dylan McCrory, with two, Logan Aasman, Nick Prkusic, Austin Wright, Jared Cockrell, Jarrod Gourley and Hayden Ursulak.
Canmore’s goals came fromOlson and Brett Radford.
Milne tried to find some positives on the night.
“I didn’t mind a lot of our play up front. I thought our guys were pretty good when we had the puck in their end,” Milne said. “We put 30 shots at Brooks, which is something we challenge the team to do every night.”
Brooks got the early jump in this game as the two teams seemed to be using the first few minutes to feel out each other.
The Bandits’ McCrory – a 20-year-old who played for the Brockville Braves of the Central Canada Hockey League — scored the opening goal just 74 seconds into the contest. He went in on Virostek uncontested and his sharp shot got a piece of the goaltender but not enough to prevent it from slipping past the goaltender on his left side.
Mallott, who had just six goals in 53 games last season with the Bandits, deflected a shot past Virostek’s left pad to make it 2-0 at 9:03 for his first of this season.
Malott is one of 10 skaters returning from last year’s South Division championship squad. The Bandits also returned starting goaltender Josh Davies, who went the distance in goal making 29 saves.
Virostek got the starting assignment for the Eagles after playing midget AA last season and made eight saves in the first period. The backup is Clarke Flegel, who played for the Regina Pat Canadians and featured in the Telus Cup – the national midget hockey championship – last spring.
The Eagles would outshoot the visitors 11-10 on the period and get one goal back in what turned out to be an evenly matched first period.
Olson would get the first Eagles’ first goal of the season at 5:36. After being flattened by a big and somewhat dubious hit along the boards in the neutral zone, the 20-year-old winger got back in the play and was in the right spot – just off the post on his off wing – to bang in a loose puck.
Brooks would blow the game open with two shorthanded goals to start the middle frame followed by three power-play goals to close the period.
Aasman, who played the last three seasons with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, scored the first goal at 2:59. It was followed by Malott’s second of the game at 12:51.
Then late in the period, Olson picked up his double minor behind the play. The Bandits would capitalize with first a two-man advantage goal followed by two more with Olson serving his minors. The goals came from Prkusic at 17:19, McCrory, his second at 18:25 and Wright at 19:53.
Milne was not pleased by the veteran’s actions.
“That is completely the opposite of what we talked about in the locker room,” Milne said. “We know they have a good power play. This is their 11th game of the year [the Bandits played 10 exhibition games]. They have played together. They know each other. Their power play is going to be good. It was good tonight.”
Brooks outshot Canmore 16-9 in the period and would finish with a 39-31 advantage.
Flegel would take over between the pipes in the third period. Just 52 seconds into the period he was beaten on the first shot he faced, a backhander by a streaking Malott to complete his hat trick.
It quickly became 9-1 when Cockrell scored the Bandits fourth power-goal of the night at 1:44.
Radford got a third-period consolation goal for Canmore when he deflected Jonas Gordon’s point shot into the Bandits’ goal.
Brooks though would finish the night off with two more goals. Gourley with a shorthanded marker at 10:50 and Ursulak would complete the rout at 17:35.
Jakob Lavoie is the captain this year. The 20-year-old is in his third full season with the Eagles, although each of the past two have been interrupted heavily by injuries. He also played the 2011-12 season with the defunct St. Albert Steel and failed to play an AJHL game while a member of the Camrose Kodiaks in 2012-13.
It was not ideal first post-game media scrum for the new captain.
“We were all over them in the first and they got of lucky bounces… and we took some stupid penalties,” said Lavoie, who follows Connor Wilson as captain.
“I think we were fine with the speed and fine with the physicality.”
Canmore’s opening night lines featured Olson on right wing with newcomers Braden Saretsky at centre and Coy Prevost, teammates with the Kimberley Dynamiters (KIJHL, junior B) last season.
Matt Forchuk centred right wing Ferguson and left wing Hildebrand, the only full forward line featuring returning players.
Radford was between rookie left wing Daylan Marchi and right wing Kyle Pauls.
The fourth unit included all rookies, with Nolan Kurylo at centre, Adam Tisdale on right wing and Jake Ashton on left wing.
The defensive pairings featured Lavoie and Brett Schimmel, Griffin Mumby and Brayden Biccum, rookies Gordon and Adamu Tanaka.
Canmore heads to Brooks on Saturday night for the second half of this opening weekend doublheader. Game time is 7 p.m.
Milne expects to start Ryan Gilchrist in goal in Brooks. The 17-year-old is listed at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds and was recently with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL and played his midget hockey in Lloydminster.
“This was our plan,” Milne said about opening the season with back-to-back games versus Brooks.
“We wanted to say to the players this is the pace we are going to have to play at all year to be successful. We learned our lesson… and if you are going to learn a lesson you might as well learn it right off the bat.”
EAGLES NEST: Mayor John Borrowman was on hand to drop the puck during the opening ceremonies. … Not dressing in the first games were Cole Noble, Nicholas Wihak, Chad Harrison, Sawyer Hunt and Gilchrist… In a slightly odd move, Logan Ferguson is the lone full time alternate captain. The players, who select the captains and alternates chose Mumby and Schimmel for home games, and Hildebrand and Olson for the away games.
BANDITS 11 at EAGLES 2
At Canmore, Friday, Sept. 11
1. Brooks: McCrory (1) (Makar) 1:14
2. Brooks: Malott (1) (Nachtigall) 8:08
3. Canmore: Olson (1) (Prevost, Tanaka) 12:23
PENALTIES – Hildebrand Can (cross checking) 5:36; Pauls Can, Karel Bro (slashing) 11:25.
4. Brooks: Aasman (1) (Malott) 2:59 SH
5. Brooks: Malott 2 (2) 12:51 SH
6. Brooks: Prkusic (1) (Cockrell, Ursulak) 17:19 PP
7. Brooks: McCrory 2 (2) (Lodermeier, Wright) 18:25 PP
8. Brooks: Wright (1) (McCrory) 19:53 PP
PENALTIES – Lavoie Can, Wright, Bro (roughing) 1:06; Bear Bro (cross checking) 2:40; Marchi Can (interference, roughing), Pauls Can, Radford Can, Prukusic Bro, Marchand Bro, McCrory Bro (roughing) 5:10; Falanga Bro (high sticking) 11:42; Forchuk Can (tripping) 16:14; Olson Can (double minor spearing) 16:44.
9. Brooks: Malott 3 (3) (makar) 00:52
10. Brooks: Cockrell (1) (Malott) 1:44 PP
11. Canmore: Radford (1) (Gordon) 7:30
12. Brooks: Gourley (1) (Nachtigall, Wright) 10:50 SH
13. Brooks: Ursulak (1) (karel, McKechney) 17:35
PENALTIES – Mumby Can (cross checking), Saretsky Can, McCrory Bro (roughing) 1:21; McCrory Bro (hooking) 7:37; Cousineau Bro (cross checking) 9:11; Forchuk Can (slashing) 13:36; Biccum Can, Lodermeier Bro (unsportsmanlike conduct) 14:39; Gordon Can, Prkusic Brok (fighting majors, game misconducts) 18:14.
Shots on goal by:
Brooks 10 16 13 — 39
Canmore 11 9 11 — 31
Goaltenders: Bro – Davis (1-0); Can – Virostek (0-1) 19-26, 40 min.; Flegel 9-13, 20 min.
Power Plays: Bro 4 for; Canmore 0 for 4.
Referee: Pollock. Linesmen: Nedinis, Robb.
Attendance: 536 .