Bandits hit second-longest ever win streak

The Brooks Bandits (41-3) secured their second-longest winning streak in franchise history following a 5-1 triumph in Camrose on Saturday night.

Five different Bandit forwards found the back of the net, while goaltender Pierce Charleson (Aurora, ON) made 32 saves on 33 Kodiak shots for his league-leading 32nd win of the season.

The Bandits became just the ninth team in AJHL history to win 17 straight games. The streak is second only to the 2012-13 Bandits, who won 20 straight, for the franchise mark. The Bandits magic number to clinch first overall in the South Division is now five combined wins and Okotoks losses.

Brooks scored first just 1:58 into the game as forward Randy Hernandez (Miami, FL) scored from the right circle off a three-on-one rush, set up by linemate Simon Gravel (Boucherville, QC). The Bandits added another with 2:45 left in the period, as Gravel powered his way to the Kodiak net on a breakaway and despite his first attempt being stopped by goaltender Kyle Dumba, he scored backing away from the net off the rebound to make it 2-0.

The Bandits weren’t called for a penalty until the 7:50 mark of the second period, but it was negated thanks to a Kodiak minor for interference from Brennan Davis on the bench on forward Ray Christy (St Paul, MN). Irate, the Kodiak bench then took a team penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct debating the call, which led to a Brooks powerplay.

The shenanigans cost Camrose, as on the ensuing man advantage, forward Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, ON) found the puck on the goal line, turned around and fired a shot at a tight angle that found its way through Dumba to make it 3-0 Bandits. Less than a minute later, forward Simon Boyko (Mississauga, ON) redirected a shot that tricked the Kodiak goaltender and slid under his pads to make it a 4-0 Brooks advantage.

Camrose got one past Charleson as they were awarded a powerplay later in the frame. Defenceman Lane Brockhoff fired a point shot on net that the Bandit goaltender stopped, but a loose puck found its way to Camrose forward Erik Miller’s stick and into the net to make it a 4-1 game.

The Bandits killed off a tripping call that overlapped into the third period, and were aided by multiple acrobatic saves from Charleson.

Forward William Lemay put the game out of reach at the 11:44 mark of the third, shooting the puck from the slot off the post and in to make it a 5-1 final.

The Bandits outshot Camrose 51-33 and went 2 for 8 on the powerplay and 1 for 2 on the penalty kill.

The team heads on their longest trip of the year, visiting Grande Prairie on Friday, January 25 where they will try for their 18th consecutive win. They also visit Whitecourt on Saturday, January 26. Both games can be heard live on Real Country 105.7.