Bandits on verge of first overall after 8-2 home win over Drumheller

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BROOKS, AB – A season-high crowd of 1,799 came out to watch the Brooks Bandits (46-4-4) on Family Day Monday afternoon, cheering the home side on to an 8-2 win over the visiting Drumheller Dragons.

The win puts the Bandits just 1 point away from clinching the Dave Duchak Trophy as regular season champions of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL).

A back and forth start to the first period settled into the Bandits’ favour just over halfway through, when a high slot setup by Ty Mappin (Big Valley, AB) found Nic Hamre (Ottawa, ON) at the left circle, who fired a wrist shot past Drumheller goalie Hunter Virostek to open the scoring.

The Bandits doubled their lead just under three minutes later, when Cale Makar (Calgary, AB) evaded two defenders at the half-boards and flicked a backhand centering feed to fellow University of Massachusetts commit Oliver Chau (Oakville, ON) in the slot, whose one-time shot beat Virostek for the 31st goal of his rookie campaign and a 2-0 Bandit lead.

At the 17:25 mark, a pass by defenceman-turned-forward David D’Agostino (Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON) from the right corner slid through the crease to Jake Theis (Chanhassen, MN), who chipped a backhand that looped over top of Virostek and into the Drumheller net to make it 3-0 heading into the first intermission.

Drumheller opened the second period scoring on their first shot of the frame when Chad Hurtubise fired a shot from the right circle that beat Mitch Benson (Windsor, ON) over his glove hand. But Makar blasted in a slapshot goal from the left circle at the 8:50 mark to reclaim the 3-goal lead, before Hurtubise again struck, centering a puck on a shorthanded 2-on-1 to Cody Young who tipped it between Benson’s pads to make it 4-2 after two.

But the Bandits pulled away in the third with four more goals; the first a Conner Jean (Oakland, MI) rebound goal on the power play at 3:26, then just over two minutes later Makar’s second of the game on a right point shot. Mappin swept in a second power play goal from the bottom of the left circle to make it 7-2 at the 11:39 mark, before Orca Wiesblatt (Calgary, AB) capped off the scoring with just 17 seconds left in the game, deflecting a pass from Theis on a 2-on-1 into the net for a last-minute goal, earning the crowd of just shy of 1,800 free Wendy’s cheeseburgers in the team’s season-long Cheeseburger Challenge promotion.

The Bandits next hit the road to take on the Calgary Canucks at the Max Bell Centre on Friday at 7:00 PM. Pre-game coverage starts at 6:45 PM on Real Country 105.7.

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