Saints, Bandits square off in Gas Drive Cup Final
Through three rounds, 54 games and 332 goals, fans of the 2015 Alberta Junior Hockey League Gas Drive Cup will be treated to a matchup worthy of the final AJHL playoff series of the year.
The AJHL’s champions from the past five seasons — the Brooks Bandits and Spruce Grove Saints – will square off in the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season and the match up should live up to the hype when the series begins Friday.
Two years ago, the Bandits defeated the Saints in five game en route to winning the Royal Bank Cup, but it’ll be the Saints who enter as the defending Gas Drive Cup Champions.
Both the Bandits and Saints are coming off their first real challenges of the post-season in their respective Division finals, with the match up made for certain following Brooks’ overpowering of the Camrose Kodiaks in game seven of their series.
Lots has changed for both clubs — aside from the on-ice presence of Bandits’ forward Alex Roberts and Saints’ forward Parkey Mackay — since they faced each other in the finals two seasons ago, but this year’s series is building up the anticipation of being too close to call.
Spruce Grove enters the series with home-ice advantage though an advantage can not really be given to either team. Where the Bandits have the best offence in the playoffs with 59 goals in just 14 games, the Saints have allowed 27 goals in 12 games.
Individually, the Bandits have the advantage — at least in the playoff scoring race. Parker Mackay, Brandon Biro and Jarid Hauptmann are the only Saints players in the top 10 of playoff scoring while four Bandits occupy spots in the top ten and three hold onto spots in the four.
Impressive regulars seasons behind both teams, a berth at the Western Canada Cup in Fort McMurray will no doubt add a level of excitement to the series as whichever team does qualify will become an automatic favourite for that tournament as well.
With the series still yet to be decided, the only clear winner at this point are the fans.