October 14, 2012 – If one thing is abundantly clear at this early stage of the 2012-2013 Alberta Junior Hockey League season, the Brooks Bandits are certainly the class of the league.
The defending 2011-2012 AJHL champions are currently ranked as the #1 Junior A hockey club in all of Canada and sport a perfect 11-0 record this season.
The Bandits will put their undefeated streak on the line in Canmore on Tuesday, October 16 with a Southern Division matchup against the upstart Canmore Eagles (5-3-3).
The Eagles are playing well on home-ice as they have picked up nine out of a possible 10 points in their five home games to date, with an overtime loss to the Calgary Canucks being their only blemish.
Even with home-ice advantage, dealing with the explosive Bandit team will be a huge challenge for the Eagles.
In their 11 games to date, the Bandits have outscored their opposition by a 62-27 margin and have connected on the power-play 25 times.
“Tuesday night’s game against the Bandits will certainly be a big test for our hockey club,” said Canmore Eagle coach and general manager Andrew Milne. “We’d better be prepared to play our best game of the season.”
While last year’s AJHL scoring champion Matt Wilkins has graduated from the Bandits and is now playing hockey in the NCAA with Union College, the league’s 2011-2012 # 2 scorer Cam Maclise and #4 scorer Mark Reners are back in Bandit uniforms for another season. Both players look determined to take a shot at the AJHL scoring crown this year as Maclise once again leads the league in scoring with 18  points and Reners has 16. Anthony Petruzzelli is also in the running with 17 points thus far.
While loaded offensively, the Bandits also have a pair of powerful defencemen. Newcomer Shane Pilling, formerly of the Prince George Cougars of the WHL, currently co-shares top-spot in the AJHL scoring parade with 19 points (1 goal and 18 assists) while Maddison Smiley has 16 points.
“If you give them the chance, their power-play will bury you quickly,” said Milne. “We will have to be tremendously disciplined on Tuesday night and try to limit the number of power-play opportunities that we give them. If you take dumb penalties against Brooks, the game will be over very quickly. You just have to work extremely hard against Brooks, keep your feet moving, and absolutely avoid those lazy penalties like holding, slashing and interference.”
Game time at the Canmore Recreation Centre is set for 7 pm.