2022 centennial brooks bandits

Road to the 2022 Centennial Cup: Brooks Bandits

The defending champions are back again, rewriting the record books in the AJHL to earn an opportunity to go back-to-back in Estevan

Jason La Rose
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May 14, 2022
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It’s 2019 all over again for the Brooks Bandits.

The defending national Junior A champions rewrote the record book once again in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), romping their way to a sixth AJHL title since 2012 with the most dominant offensive performance the prairies have seen in almost 50 years.

While they didn’t quite reach the record 57 wins and 114 points of 2018-19, the Bandits went 52-6-2, tied for the third-most wins in a single season. (Brooks has the top two, in their two national title-winning seasons – 2012-13 and 2018-19.)

They didn’t run off 33 wins in a row, but they did win 19 straight from Sept. 24 to Nov. 13, and after Spruce Grove snapped that streak with a 5-4 shootout win, the Bandits proceeded to run off another 17-straight victories.

And while they didn’t go perfect on home ice like they did three years ago, they did finish 28-2 as the host – dropping their home opener to the Drumheller Dragons and their home finale to the Dragons.

Where they bettered that 2018-19 group was on the scoreboard. Brooks scored a remarkable 371 goals in 60 regular-season games (an average of 6.18 goals per game).

“I don't think we had a lot of nights where we were challenged, only because this team found ways to score,” says head coach and general manager Ryan Papaioannou. “We're scoring at a rate of about seven a night. So a lot of times, even when we didn't play well, we outscored our problems, which I don't know if that's a good or a bad trait.”

The Bandits were led by the three-headed monster of Ryan McAllister, T.J. Hughes and Devin Phillips, who combined for 357 points during the regular season. McAllister led the league with 132 points, becoming the first player to crack the 130-point mark since Mike Comrie in 1997-98, and Hughes’ 66 goals were the most since Dany Heatley netted 70 in 1998-99.

And let’s not forget Zach Bookman on the back end; the rookie blue-liner set AJHL records for assists (81) and points (102) by a defenceman, becoming the first defender since Dave Babych in 1977-78 to crack the century mark.

So the burning question must be asked – how does the 2021-22 edition of the Bandits match up with the 2018-19 team?

“We get the question a lot from our current guys and I get the past players texting me, asking me the same thing,” Papaioannou says with a laugh. “And I think, ‘Oh, they're all so different.’ We're very top heavy in terms of our scoring [this season], where maybe a couple years ago, we were a little more balanced. And then defensively, we're pretty deep this year.

“I feel like this team is as good as any of the ones we've had that won. Whether they'll able to do it or not. I guess we'll find out.”

Brooks opens its Centennial Cup schedule against the Ligue de hockey junior AAA du Québec champions, Collège Français de Longueuil, on May 19.

HOW THEY GOT TO ESTEVAN

Alberta Junior Hockey League
Quarterfinal: defeated Canmore 4-0 (7-1, 8-5, 9-2, 7-1)
Semifinal: defeated Okotoks 4-0 (7-2, 6-1, 4-3 OT, 3-1)
AJHL championship: defeated Spruce Grove 4-1 (3-7, 4-3 OT, 4-3 OT, 4-3, 2-0)

REGULAR SEASON

Record (W-L-OTL): 52-6-2 (1st in AJHL)
Goals for: 371 (1st in AJHL)
Goals against: 130 (1st in AJHL)
Power play: 100 for 283 (35.3% – 1st in AJHL)
Penalty killing: 188 of 217 (86.6% – 1st in AJHL)
Longest winning streak: 19 (Sept. 24-Nov. 13)
Top 3 scorers:
• Ryan McAllister – 57G 82A 139P (1st in AJHL)
• T.J. Hughes – 66G 61A 127P (2nd in AJHL)
• Zach Bookman – 21G 81A 102P (3rd in AJHL)

PLAYOFFS

Record: 12-1
Goals for: 68
Goals against: 32
Power play: 10 for 42 (23.8%)
Penalty killing: 42 of 49 (85.7%)
Top 3 scorers:
• Ryan McAllister – 10G 19A 29P
• T.J. Hughes – 12G 11A 23P
• Devin Phillips – 7G 10A 17P

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

2013 – Brooks Bandits | national champions | 5-1 | 27GF 14GA
2016 – Brooks Bandits | 4th place | 3-2 | 17GF 15GA
2017 – Brooks Bandits | 2nd place | 4-2 | 24GF 12GA
2019 – Brooks Bandits | national champions | 6-0 | 25GF 14GA

COMMITMENTS

Ethan Barwick – Lindenwood University (2023-24)
Dario Beljo – American International College (2023-24)
Zach Bookman – Merrimack College (2022-23)
Boston Buckberger – University of Wisconsin (2022-23)
Dominick Campione – Arizona State University (2022-23)
Anthony Cipollone – Quinnipiac University (2022-23)
Aiden Fink – University of Wisconsin (2022-23)
Noah Hackett – Niagara University (2022-23)
T.J. Hughes – University of Michigan (2022-23)
Brendan Kennette – Sacred Heart University (2022-23)
Ethan Lund – Niagara University (2022-23)
Ryan McAllister – Western Michigan University (2022-23)
Devin Phillips – College of the Holy Cross (2022-23)
Brendan Poshak – Northern Michigan University (2022-23)
Wes Turner – College of the Holy Cross (2022-23)
Hunter Wallace – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2023-24)
Jared Whale – University of Alaska Anchorage (2022-23)
Joshua Zinger – Northern Michigan University (2022-23)

CJHL TOP 20 RANKINGS

Oct. 4 – 14th
Oct. 11 – 7th
Oct. 18 – 3rd
Oct. 25 – 2nd
Nov. 1 – 1st
Nov. 8 – 1st
Nov. 15 – 1st
Nov. 22 – 1st
Nov. 29 – 1st
Dec. 6 – 1st
Dec. 13 – 1st
Dec. 20 – 1st
Feb. 7 – 1st
Feb. 14 – 1st
Feb. 21 – 1st
Feb. 28 – 1st
March 7 – 1st
March 14 – 1st
March 21 – 1st

For more information:

Dominick Saillant
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
514-895-9706
[email protected]

 

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
[email protected]

 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada
Office: 403-777-4567
Mobile: 905-906-5327
[email protected]

 

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