ESTEVAN, SK (May 2, 2016) – A three-goal first period was all the Brooks Bandits (2-0) needed on Monday night, as the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) champions continued their hot start to the Western Canada Cup with a 3-0 win over the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) champion Melfort Mustangs (0-2) at Affinity Place.
With the win, the Bandits remain tied with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) champion Portage Terriers at the top of the WCC round robin standings.
Fresh off of a shorthanded goal-scoring performance the previous afternoon in Brooks’ 4-2 win over West Kelowna, alternate captain Jeff Malott (Waterdown, ON) opened the scoring at the 4:37 mark when his wrist shot from the left-wing faceoff circle skipped off of the shoulder of goalie Richard Palmer, up in the air, and slid into the Melfort net for a 1-0 Bandit advantage.
Less than five minutes later, Malott potted his second of the night, when a nifty set of moves by Ty Mappin (Big Valley, AB) led to a centering pass from the right side of the net that found Malott at the top of the crease for a quick tap-in goal, making it 2-0 for the Alberta champs.
Finally, Jared Cockrell (Byfield, MA) capped off the scoring with 3:40 left in the first, sneaking by a Melfort defender and corralling a puck at the right circle of the Mustangs’ zone, with his quick wrist shot beating Palmer for a 3-0 advantage.
The Bandits outshot Melfort 12-4 in the first, but were then outshot 7-4 in the second. But several big stops by Garret Hughson (Foremost, AB), and a post rung by Melfort captain Tristan Frei in the third on a nifty tic-tac-toe passing play off the rush, helped preserve the 3-0 Bandit lead.
In the third, the Mustangs were called for two major penalties; the first a boarding major on Eric Sinclair who pushed Cockrell from behind into the corner glass, and the second a cross-check to the head of Cockrell once again by Craig Leverton with just over four minutes left in the game.
But the Melfort penalty kill was perfect, as the Bandits went 0-for-5 on the man advantage, while also killing off two Mustang man advantages themselves. After an 8-6 Bandit advantage in third period shots, the final tally was 24-17 for Brooks. Hughson stopped all 17 shots he faced for his fifth post-season shutout as a Bandit.
The Bandits will have an off day on Tuesday while all 4 other teams at the tournament will play. Brooks resumes play Wednesday night, taking on the Manitoba champion Portage Terriers at 7:00 PM in the only game of the day. Pre-game coverage will begin on Q105.7 starting at 6:30.