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Brooks Bandits win first AJHL Championship-Enerflex Cup Junior Hockey News

Published: Sunday, 15 Apr 2012  
By: John Petruzzelli

The Brooks Bandits have won their first Alberta Junior Hockey League Championship in the franchises 12 year history.  The Bandits were able to pull off the Enerflex Cup victory on the road against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Saturday night with a 4-0 shutout in game 6 of the series.  Goalie Jan Obernesser earned the playoff MVP award as the Bandits were able to go 12 wins and 2 losses throughout the playoffs, part of a storied season dedicated to Bandit Nick Crosby, who passed away from injuries in an auto accident after the Bandits summer camp.  Crosby's number 23 jersey was retired at the Bandits first home game this season in front of his family, who made the trip from Ketchum, Idaho.  The Bandits have made saluting him after every home win a tradition this season.

Second year head coach Ryan Papaioannou led the Bandits to home ice advantage throughout the playoffs by winning the regular season championship with a franchise record 100 points, as well as a first round bye in the playoffs.  The second series had the Bandits facing off against the Calgary Canucks and sweeping them in 4 games.  This was followed by another 4 game sweep of the Olds Grizzlys to earn the AJHL South Division Championship banner, and the right to face the North Division winner Fort McMurray Oil Barons, who defeated the Spruce Grove Saints in game 7 of that series. 

Things started out well for the Bandits in game one at the Centennial Regional Arena with the Bandits winning in front of a sellout crowd by a score of 5-1.  Game 2 was a different story with the MOB soundly defeating the Bandits 7-1 in the Bandits barn last Saturday.  The teams then traveled to Fort McMurray for games 3 and 4 where they exchanged two hard fought 3-2 games. 

Game 5 returned back to Brooks with the Bandits finding their groove and outplaying Fort McMurray 4-1, with the only goal for the MOB coming in the final minute of play on a power play point shot.  This set the stage for game 6 in Fort Mac, where the Bandits had a flawless game, shutting out the MOB for their first Enerflex Cup Championship with a final score of 4-0.

With their first ever Enerflex Cup championship, the Bandits have earned the right to play the BCHL Fred Page Champion Penticton Vees for the Doyle Cup, with the winner of that series representing  Western Canada at the Royal Bank of Canada Cup.  Penticton has been the number 1 ranked team in the CJHL rankings all season, with the Vees setting a junior hockey record for consecutive wins with 42 wins.  The best of 7 series opens next Friday, April 20th at the Centennial Regional Arena in Brooks, Alberta. 


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