It seems as if the only people not buying into the hype surrounding the Brooks Bandits are the Bandits themselves.
Sure, the reigning AJHL champions have started the season with a perfect 12-0 record and are currently ranked as the top team in Canada by the CJHL and NHL Central Scouting.
But the Bandits seem to have more important things to think about.
“We all recognize there's things we need to better,” said Bandits head coach and GM Ryan Papaioannou.
“There's a lot of things we need to clean up and areas where we can get a lot better. We're happy that we're winning, but we'd like to win in a different fashion and we don't want to let in so many goals.”
So far, the Bandits have avoided being punished too severely for their defensive shortcomings by seemingly scoring at will — the Bandits have three scorers in the AJHL's top-five, and five in the top-ten — but sit in the league's bottom third in terms of penalty killing percentage.
Needless to say, playing shorthanded has been the primary focus in practice recently.