Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON) stopped all 28 shots he faced for his fifth shutout, as the Brooks Bandits (41-4-4) clinched first place in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) South division, downing the host Camrose Kodiaks 4-0 at Encana Arena on Tuesday night.
With the win, the Bandits win the South regular season title for the fifth time in the last six seasons, and will have a first-round bye in the AJHL playoffs.
With both teams missing some of their top scorers, both went down an extra man just 5:56 into the period after a clean hit by Nathan Plessis (Salmon Arm, B.C.) drew a challenge from Camrose veteran forward Josh Zablocki; the two fought with Plessis landing a plethora of right hands, but Zablocki landing the final punch of the fight. No instigator penalty was assessed on the fight and both players were ejected.
Brooks broke through for the opening goal at the 16:27 mark when Nic Hamre (Ottawa, ON) fed a pass to the front of the net from the left corner, which Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, ON) tipped home for his 17th of his rookie campaign and a 1-0 Bandit lead.
In the second, a Conner Jean (Oakland, MI) shot from the left circle bounced off of the glove of Kodiak goalie Patrick Gora, and came straight to Parker Foo (Edmonton, AB) at the right side of the net, who backhanded a rebound goal in to double the Brooks advantage.
Just over halfway through the second, in the dying seconds of a Brooks power play, a pass from Orca Wiesblatt (Calgary, AB) found Dennis Cesana at the middle of the blue line, for a one-timer blast and a power play goal to give the visitors the 3-0 lead after two.
Brooks added a fourth in the third period, when Josh McKechney (Calgary, AB) passed the puck from the left corner to Hamre in the left circle, for a one-timer goal that beat Gora short-side and notched the 4-0 final score.
Brooks outshot the Kodiaks 53-28 on the score clock, registering the team’s second consecutive win and fourth of the four-game season series with Camrose.
The Bandits will hit the road again on Friday night to visit the Drumheller Dragons at 7:30 PM before returning home to take on that same Dragon team on Saturday night at 7 o’clock. Tickets for the latter are available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.