The Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) are proud to announce that third-year forward Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, AB) has been named team captain for the 2016-17 AJHL season.
He succeeds 1995-born forward Derek Lodermeier, who served as captain in 2015-16 before moving on to the University of Vermont this year to begin his NCAA Division I career.
“Nick has been nothing less than a model for development,” said Bandits head coach and general manager Ryan Papaioannou. “From the time he joined our club as an affiliate his on ice game has not only improved, but off the ice he’s become a player everyone looks up to.
“We had some great candidates for our captaincy, but in the end we felt Nick’s experience on the ice playing in 2 AJHL championships, along with his ability to overcome injury setbacks, made him the ideal captain.”
The 6’3”, 205lb forward joined the Bandits as an affiliate player in 2013-14 while simultaneously serving as captain of the South East Athletic Club (SEAC) Tigers of the Alberta Midget Hockey League (AMHL), dressing in one AJHL game and regularly practicing with the team.
In his first season of AJHL competition in 2014-15, Prkusic scored 14 points (9 goals, 5 assists) with 50 penalty minutes in an injury-shortened 28-game regular season campaign, while adding a further three points (1 goal, 2 assists) in 12 playoff games, with 37 penalty minutes, as the Bandits reached the AJHL Final.
Last season was a career year for Prkusic, as he registered 46 points (18 goals, 28 assists) in 59 games, with 181 penalty minutes, and 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) in 13 AJHL playoff games as the Bandits won their third AJHL championship. He added 4 assists in 6 games at the 2016 Western Canada Cup, as the Bandits earned their way to their second RBC Cup national championship tournament.
“It was really humbling,” said Prkusic of being asked to wear the “C”. “[Coach Papaioannou] asked me what I would think about being captain, and I told him it’d be a great honour. I’ve learned a lot from our past captains, and I definitely think I have what it takes.”
Originally from St. Albert, Prkusic played for the St. Albert Bears Bantam AA team, recording 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) in 31 games in 2010-11, before graduating to the St. Albert Flyers Minor Midget AAA squad in 2011-12, where he scored 17 points (8 goals, 9 assists) in 37 games. His first year in the SEAC system was 2012-13, where he scored 14 points (3 goals, 11 assists) in 26 games for the Southeast Tigers midget AAA team.
“It’s going to be a good league this year, I feel,” Prkusic predicted. “I just think it’s really important to come with the right mindset every day.”
Prkusic will sport the “C” when the Bandits begin their 2016-17 season and AJHL title defence on September 16, 2016 at home against the Okotoks Oilers at 7:00 PM at the Centennial Regional Arena, in the team’s annual fundraiser game for Brooks Minor Hockey.
“We’ll become better in those five to six hours every day that we’re going to work,” Prkusic said of his message to the plethora of new Bandits joining the team this year. “Stay focused on your role, and that’s how you’ll get better.”
“Nick’s work ethic is on display nightly and his positive outlook is infectious,” Papaioannou added. “We are set up very well this season if our incoming group can emulate Nick’s on and off ice qualities.”
Season tickets for the Bandits’ 2016-17 title defence are on sale now! Buy online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca, by phone at (403) 501-0122, or in-person at the Centennial Regional Arena from Tuesday – Thursday, 9 AM to 1 PM.