Brooks Bandits

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Brooks Bandits
Brooks Bandits Logo.svg
City Brooks, Alberta
League Alberta Junior Hockey League
Division South
Founded 2000 (2000)
Home arena Centennial Regional Arena
Colours Red, blue, black and white
General manager Ryan Papaioannou
Head coach Ryan Papaioannou

The Brooks Bandits are an ice hockey team in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. They play in Brooks, Alberta at the Centennial Regional Arena, capacity 1,704.

History[edit]

Founded: 2000–01
Division titles won: 3 (2008–09, 2011–12, 2012-13)
League championships won: 2 (2011–12, 2012-13)
Western Canada Cup titles: None
Royal Bank Cup titles: 1 (2012-2013)

The Brooks Bandits were awarded an expansion franchise by the AJHL in 1999, and began play in the 2000–01 season. The first ever franchise goal was scored by Chris Boyle just under a minute into the first regular-season game against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons. The franchise secured its expansion fee through what they call "The Founding Fathers", a group of 17 local businesses and individuals who donated the money needed to finance the team in exchange for lifetime benefits with the team.

The early years[edit]

The first coach for the Brooks Bandits was Nolan Crouse. It was a struggle for the expansion Bandits for the first 4 years of existence, failing to make the Playoffs in all of those 4 years. The bright spots in those years included a young Curtis Glencross, Jeff Marler, and Wade Richardson. The tables started to turn in 2004 when the Crowsnest Pass Timberwolves took a leave of absence for one year before relocating to Okotoks.

With the players from Crowsnest pass needing a place to play for that season, they were scattered throughout the AJHL, with the likes of Judd Blackwater, and Neil Graham coming to Brooks. Under the coaching of Kevin Higo, and players such as Brendan Connolly, Spencer Machacek, Ben Wright, and the goaltending of Chad Johnson, the Bandits, for the first time, advanced to the AJHL playoffs.

In 2008, after 3 successful years, Higo accepted an assistant coaching position with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL. With the head coach/GM spot open, the Bandits hired former ECHL head coach, and former NHL tough guy Brian Curran.

Curran brought a big, hard hitting, skillful team to Brooks. Led by Jarrett Granberg, and the strong goaltending of Rob Gunderson, the Bandits for the first time, finished 1st in the south before losing in round 3 of the playoffs to Grande prairie.

Post Curran[edit]

On October 16, 2009, controversy started when Curran was unexpectedly released as Head Coach/General Manager of the Bandits. Curran's assistant Ryan Papaioannou, was hired as the team's head coach and general manager. That season the Bandits struggled, finishing 5th in the south division, leading to an early 2nd round playoff exit.

That season, on January 20, 2010, the Bandits moved from the cramped Centennial Arena in the Lakeside Leisure Centre, to the brand new Centennial Regional Arena. The bandits lost that game 5-3 to the Calgary Royals in front of 2,056 fans.

Under Papaioannou, the 2010/11 season was very successful. Led by Matt Wilkins, Riley Simpson, and Cam Maclise, and the goaltending of Jan Oberneser, the Bandits finished 2nd in the south. Unfortunately for them, regular season success didn’t lead to playoff success; as they were eliminated in the 2nd round by the Camrose Kodiaks in 7 games.

Tragedy struck the team on July 5, 2011, when forward Nick Crosby was killed in a car accident returning home from a Bandits camp.[1]

Dominance years[edit]

2011/12:

After Crosby’s death, the Bandits dedicated the 2011/12 season in his honor. The Bandits had statistically their best season in franchise history, with a record of 47-7-8. In the playoffs they cruised through the Calgary Canucks 4 games to none, and the Olds Grizzlys 4 games to none, allowing them to play for their first Enerfelx Cup championship, against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons. The Bandits won the series 4 games to 2. In the Doyle Cup, the number 2 ranked Bandits took on the BCHL champs, and number one ranked Penticton Vees. Unfortunately for the Bandits the Vees were too much for the Bandits, defeating them 4 games to 1. The Vees would eventually go on the win the 2012 Royal Bank Cup.

2012/13:

It was a record setting year for the Bandits. They came out the gate flying, going 20-0-0, before finally losing in Grande Prairie. The Bandits were one win short of tying the AJHL record for longest winning streak. The Bandits were led by captain Cam Maclise, Mark Reners, and Dakota Mason. The Bandits finished the regular season with a record of 53-4-3, breaking the AJHL record for wins in season, and points in a season (109). In all but one week (week 1), the Bandits were ranked as the number one team in Canada.

In the playoffs, the Bandits took out the Drumheller Dragons, 4 games to 1. Things got tough as they faced off against a hot Okotoks team in round 3. The Bandits prevailed, winning the series 4 games to 3, in a very tight and entertaining series. The Bandits defeated the Spruce Grove Saints, to win The Gas Drive Cup finals 6-5 in overtime of game 5 in Brooks in front of 2,688 fans.

After the Gas Drive cup finals, the Bandits were off to Nanaimo, BC for the inaugural Western Canada Cup. The Bandits didn't play their best hockey during the tournament, including a 7-2 defeat at the hands of the host Clippers. But the Bandits still managed to finish first in the round robin, giving them a berth to play in the finals. They fell to the Surrey Eagles 4-1, meaning they had to win the next night to advance to the RBC Cup. They beat the Yorkton Terriers by a score of 1-0 to move on.

From there the Bandits traveled to Summerside, PEI for the RBC Cup. The Bandits cruised through the round robin, but faced some adversity vs the host Western Capitals as they lost 3-1 in a penalty filled game.

In the playoffs, the Bandits faced off against the Minnesota Wilderness, winner goes to the final. The Bandits were 18 seconds away from going home, when Dakota Mason scored to tie the game and send it into overtime. In overtime, RJ Reed found Mark Reners in front of the net, and he buried it, sending the Bandits to the final. The Bandits then faced off against the host Summerside Western Capitals for the RBC Cup. Anthony Petruzelli, Dakota Mason, and Cam Maclise scored for Brooks, who won the game 3-1, bringing home their first ever RBC Cup title.

2013/14:

Shortly after the teams first RBC Cup championship, the Bandits signed 3 players from the Minnesota Wilderness, the same team that nearly knocked them out of the RBC Cup. Goaltender Gordy Defiel, Defenseman Nick McCormack, and forward Jake Larson. The 2013/14 season was one that was injury filled. Only 3 players (Jake Larson, Alex Roberts, and Brandon Bruce) finished the season having played in all 60 games. Key players such as Patrick Lee, Shane Pilling, Maddison Smiley, and Brandon Tkachuk all spent significant time on the injured list. Despite all the injuries, the Bandits still ended up finishing the regular season in 1st place in the south division, earning the first round bye for the playoffs.

In the playoffs the Bandits faced off against the Olds Grizzlys in round 2, with the bandits winning it 4 games to none. In round 3 the Bandits faced off against rival Drumheller, and familiar face Brian Curran. Drumheller was the better team in this series, and the outstanding play from goaltender Devin Buffalo helped the Dragons knock off the Bandits in 5 games.

Season-by-season record[edit]

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T/OTL = Ties/Overtime losses, SOL = Shootout losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against

Season GP W L T/OTL Points GF GA Finish Playoffs
2000-01 64 18 41 5 41 257 373 7th South Out of playoffs
2001-02 64 14 42 8 36 205 343 7th South Out of playoffs
2002-03 64 12 45 7 31 167 280 7th South Out of playoffs
2003-04 60 11 34 6 28 149 261 7th South Out of playoffs
2004-05 64 36 26 2 74 230 199 2nd South Lost in third round
2005-06 60 29 24 7 65 174 188 4th South Lost in third round
2006-07 60 27 25 7 61 185 201 4th South Lost in second round
2007-08 62 23 30 9 55 197 228 6th South Lost in first round
2008-09 62 39 18 5 83 215 182 1st South Lost in third round
2009-10 60 28 27 5 61 218 205 5th South Lost in second round
2010-11 60 35 18 7 77 211 185 2nd South Lost in second round
2011-12 60 47 7 6 100 273 131 1st South Won Enerflex Cup
2012-13 60 53 4 3 109 289 113 1st South Won Gas Drive Cup, Won RBC Cup
2013-14 60 39 13 8 86 196 132 1st South Lost in third round

Playoffs[edit]

  • 2001 DNQ
  • 2002 DNQ
  • 2003 DNQ
  • 2004 DNQ
  • 2005 Lost Semi-final
Brooks Bandits defeated Calgary Canucks 4-games-to-3
Camrose Kodiaks defeated Brooks Bandits 4-games-to-none
  • 2006 Lost Semi-final
Brooks Bandits defeated Okotoks Oilers 3-games-to-2
Brooks Bandits defeated Canmore Eagles 4-games-to-2
Fort McMurray Oil Barons defeated Brooks Bandits 4-games-to-none
  • 2007 Lost Quarter-final
Brooks Bandits defeated Calgary Royals 3-games-to-1
Okotoks Oilers defeated Brooks Bandits 4-games-to-2
  • 2008 Lost Preliminary
Drumheller Dragons defeated Brooks Bandits 3-games-to-none
  • 2009 Lost Semi-final
Brooks Bandits defeated Camrose Kodiaks 4-games-to-3
Grande Prairie Storm defeated Brooks Bandits 4-games-to-1
  • 2010 Lost Quarter-final
Brooks Bandits defeated Calgary Canucks 3-games-to-1
Camrose Kodiaks defeated Brooks Bandits 4-games-to-1
  • 2011 Lost Quarter-final
Brooks Bandits defeated Canmore Eagles 3-games-to-none
Camrose Kodiaks defeated Brooks Bandits 4-games-to-3
  • 2012 Enerflex Cup Champions, Lost Doyle Cup
Brooks Bandits defeated Calgary Canucks 4-games-to-none
Brooks Bandits defeated Olds Grizzlys 4-games-to-none
Brooks Bandits defeated Fort McMurray Oil Barons 4-games-to-2
Penticton Vees (BCHL) defeated Brook Bandits 4-games-to-1
  • 2013 Gas Drive Cup Champions
Brooks Bandits defeated Drumheller Dragons 4-games-to-one
Brooks Bandits defeated Okotoks Oilers 4-games-to-three
Brooks Bandits defeated Spruce Grove Saints 4-games-to-one
  • 2014 Lost Semi-final
Brooks Bandits defeated Olds Grizzlys 4-games-to-none
Drumheller Dragons defeated Brooks Bandits 4-games-to-one

Notable alumni[edit]

These alumni are either currently playing or drafted into the National Hockey League, playing in college leagues, or playing in various minor pro leagues.

St. Louis Blues prospect Ty Rattie played 2 regular season and 2 playoff games for the Bandits in the 2008–09 season as an affiliate player.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Brooks Bandits Mourn the Passing of Nick Crosby". Alberta Junior Hockey League. July 8, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Penticton Vees
Royal Bank Cup Champions
2013
Succeeded by
Yorkton Terriers