Photo – Melissa Baker:
The Brooks Bandits have captured a second consecutive league title as the 2017 Gas Drive Cup Champions. The Bandits won their fourth League Title on Tuesday night in Whitecourt, AB as they swept the Whitecourt Wolverines with a 4-1 win in Game Four of the series.
It is the second time in franchise history that the team has won back to back championships, and the fifth time in the past six seasons that the Bandits have represented the South Division in the League Final. The team went on to win the AJHL Title in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2017.
The AJHL’s defending champion lost just one game in the post-season and outscored their opponents 75-16. Josh McKechney’s 9 goals and 23 points in 13 post-season games led the AJHL Scoring Race. Goaltender Mitchell Benson’s four shutouts have him tied for the league record for playoff shutouts.
League Commissioner Ryan Bartoshyk and Gas Drive General Manager Trevor Kramer awarded the 2017 Gas Drive Cup to Bandits Captain Nick Prkusic, and the AJHL Playoff MVP Award to Bandits defenceman Cale Makar. Cale Makar is ranked 9th among all North American skaters for the upcoming 2017 NHL Draft; the highest ranking of all North American defencemen. Makar, 18, was named the 2016-2017 AJHL Most Valuable Player and Outstanding Defenceman.
Brooks advanced to the League Final after a Game Five overtime win over the Okotoks Oilers in the AJHL South Division Final, while the Wolverines captured their first-ever AJHL North Division championship after defeating the top-seeded Fort McMurray Oil Barons in six games.
The Brooks Bandits were awarded with the Dave Duchak Trophy as the 2017 AJHL Regular Season Champions, earning the annual honour with a record of 51-5-4 and 106 points. The South Division team led the league with the Most Wins, Fewest Loses, Most Points, Most Goals For and Fewest Goals Against. The Brooks Bandits have clinched the Dave Duchak Trophy in 2012, 2013 and 2017 under Head Coach Ryan Papaioannou.
As the AJHL Champion, the Bandits have earned a spot in the 2017 Western Canada Cup in Penticton, B.C from April 29th – May 7th. This will be the Bandits third appearance in the five year history of the tournament.
Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup
The champions of the British Columbia Hockey League, Alberta Junior Hockey League, Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, and Manitoba Junior Hockey League participate in a five-team tournament along with a host for the Western Canada Cup title. The 13-game tournament includes a round-robin schedule followed by two semifinal games and a championship game. The Western Canada Cup Champion and the runner-up will both represent Western Canada at the RBC Cup National Junior A Championship.
For more information about the Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup, visit www.westerncanadacup.com