The Brooks Bandits don’t seem to have dropped a beat as they look to defend their Alberta Junior Hockey League title.
With a team laden with NCAA hockey prospects — eight players in Friday night’s lineup have committed to Div. 1 school for next fall — the Bandits raced up and down the ice at the Canmore Rec Centre and in the end skated away with a 4-1 before 503 fans.
It’s not to say this team is unbeatable. The Canmore Eagles nearly did that in their first meeting of the season in October, only losing 6-5 in a shootout in Brooks. On Friday, they came close again, unfortunately they were unable to match their season average for goals-per-game, which entering Friday was a league-best 4.32 per game.
Brooks just didn’t give them enough scoring chances while holding the Eagles to 28 shots. The visitors fired 40 at the Canmore goal. Ryan Bontorin was in goal for the Eagles. Mitchel Benson was in goal for the Bandits.
“We got outworked,” said Andrew Milne, Eagles GM and head coach. “I thought we stood around and watched in the first period and admired their game. We got better in the second and third but it was too little too late.”
Vic Hamre scored the only goal of the first period. It came at 3:18 of the period while the teams were playing 4-on-4.
The Eagles opened the second period on the power play and jumped on the opportunity. Colby Livingstone scored his eighth goal of the season just 38 seconds into the frame, wiring a shot from the right wing face-off dot high into the goal.
“When we scored I thought it gave us confidence. It was great to see. But at the end of the day, they outworked us, won too many one-on-one battles,” said Milne.
Tyrell Mappin scored a shorthanded goal to renew the Bandits’ lead to take a one-goal lead into the second break. It was his ninth goal of the season.
In the third period, the Eagles were handed a four-minute power play but failed to manage even a shot on goal.
Shortly after the team’s returned to five-aside hockey, Tyler Carangelo would stickhandle through the Eagles team and score just his second goal of the season to give the Bandits some insurance.
Parker Foo, with his sixth of the season, into an empty net completed the scoring.
This brings us back to whether the Bandits as good as advertised.
“Absolutely not. We played them to a shootout in the last game and we were with them for the most part tonight but when we opened it up in the third we got caught,” said Milne. “They are a team we can compete with.”
The two teams meet again Nov. 25 in Brooks.
Canmore, now at 10-7-3, holds onto fourth place in the AJHL South Division, remaining four points back of the idle Okotoks Oilers (12-5-3).
Brooks (14-3-3) remains second in the South, trailing the Calgary Canucks (16-6-1) by two points.
The Canucks defeated the Olds Grizzlys 5-3 on Friday.
Canmore hosts the Olds Grizzlys on Saturday night, 7 p.m. at the Canmore Recreation Centre.
EAGLES NEST: Scratches for Canmore were Jake Ashton and the newest Eagle Evan Katelnifkoff. … Canmore was 1-for-7 on the power play. Brooks was 0-for6 on the power play. … The Bandits lineup included only six Albertans, eight players for Ontario, three Americans and two B.C. players.
For more from Russ at the Crag and Canyon :http://www.thecragandcanyon.ca/2016/11/11/bandits-grab-two-points-from-eagles
Photo by: Pam Doyle