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PREVIEW: Bandits set to face Crusaders in BCHL Alberta Division Final

May 8, 2024 – The BC Hockey League’s Alberta Division Final begins this weekend featuring the first ever playoff series between the Brooks Bandits and Sherwood Park Crusaders.

The final two teams in the Alberta Division will square-off in a best-of-seven series beginning on Friday, May 10th in Sherwood Park. 7:00 PM on New Country 105.7 FM and

The Bandits hold home ice advantage after going 58-6-1 in the Regular Season. However, the series will begin at the Randy Rosen Rink in Sherwood due to the Koye Larson Memorial PBR being held this Friday at the Centennial Regional Arena.

Brooks will host Games 3 and 4 on Friday, May 17 and Saturday, May 18 at the Centennial Regional Arena.

Tickets are on sale now, click here.

All games @ 7:00 pm except for Game 2
*if necessary
~ held at the Silent Ice Center in Nisku

G1 – May 10 @ Sherwood Park
G2 – May 11 @ Sherwood Park (7:15 pm)
G3 – May 17 @ Brooks
G4 – May 18 @ Brooks
G5 – May 22 @ Brooks *
G6 – May 24 @ Sherwood Park * ~
G7 – May 26 @ Brooks *

The Bandits are coming off a hard-fought seven games Alberta Semifinal series vs the Okotoks Oilers with the Bandits winning the series 4 games to 3.

NHL Draft Eligible forward Logan Sawyer (Orangeville, ON) leads the Bandits in playoff scoring with eight points (4g, 4a) in seven games, while NHL Draft Eligible forward Nathan Free (Calgary, AB) leads Brooks in goal scoring with five goals in seven games. Clarkson commit Caelan Fitzpatrick (Moose Jaw, SK) is tied for second in scoring with seven points (4g, 3a) through seven games.

Holy Cross commit Quinn McCall (St. John, IN) leads the Bandits blueline in points with three (1g, 2a), while goaltender Johnny Hicks (Kamloops, BC) leads all Alberta Division goaltenders in goals against average (1.95) and save percentage (.930).

Brooks won six of seven meetings with the Crusaders in the Regular Season. Sherwood Park finished second in the Alberta Division with a 49-16-2 record, going 27-5 at home. They swept the Blackfalds Bulldogs 4 games to 0 in the other Alberta Semifinal, outscoring Blackfalds 28-14, which included a 10-3 blowout win in Game 3. The Crusaders powerplay went 5/14 in the series.

Penn State commit Kale Dach leads Sherwood Park in playoff scoring with eight points (3g, 5A) in four games, while Canisius commit Hunter Price and Merrimack commit Ethan Merner each scored five goals in the series.

Opposite Hicks is Crusaders goaltender and Cornell commit Erick Roest, who was Johnny’s teammate at the 2023 World Junior A Challenge, which saw Canada West win gold.

Regular Season Recap:

September 22, 2023 @ Brooks
Bandits 4, Crusaders 3

The Bandits won their 2023-24 Regular Season Home Opener in comeback fashion. Down 3-2 in the 3rd period, forward Hunter Wallace (Oak Lake, MB) scored twice, including the game-tying goal in the 3rd, followed by a Danylo Korzhyletskyi (Kyiv, UA) go-ahead goal 19 seconds later to give Brooks the 4-3 win on Banner night.

November 3, 2023 @ Brooks
Bandits 2, Crusaders 1

Despite forward Mirko Buttazzoni (Langley, BC) scoring 55 seconds into the game, followed by a Fitzpatrick goal eight minutes later, this was a goaltender battle. Hicks made 30 saves allowing only one Crusader goal from Zac Maxwell. Goaltender Erick Roest stopped 47 shots, but Brooks edged Sherwood Park by a goal.

February 9, 2024 @ Sherwood Park
Bandits 3, Crusaders 1

The Bandits first trip to Sherwood Park of the season didn’t come until the second weekend of February, and it was also the first BCHL game between the Bandits and Crusaders.

Special teams won the game, as Brooks got powerplay goals from Ty Mason (Weyburn, SK) and Free, and an empty-net goal from Ethan Beyer (Centennial, CO) as the Crusaders ran into penalty trouble. Hicks and Roest battled it out in the crease, with Hicks making 39 saves for the win.

February 24, 2024 @ Brooks
Bandits 3, Crusaders 2 OT

If not for Roest, this game likely doesn’t see overtime as the Bandits outshot the Crusaders 43-19. Wallace and Nick Peluso (Rochester, NY) scored to give Brooks a 2-1 lead, but Crusaders defenceman Dominic Payne tied the game with under two minutes remaining in the 3rd to force overtime. The Bandits outshot the Crusaders 7-0 in overtime, and Buttazzoni ended the game by finishing a Peluso pass off the rush. Sam Scopa (Lexington, MA) made 18 saves for Brooks.

March 22, 2024 @ Brooks
Bandits 9, Crusaders 1

The biggest Bandits win over the Crusaders this season came in late March. Brooks scored three goals in each period, chasing Roest after the 2nd period. Wallace scored a hat trick, while Buttazzoni had a four point game as the Bandits converted three times on the powerplay.

April 5, 2024 @ Sherwood Park
Bandits 6, Crusaders 3

The Bandits set a team record for most wins in a single season with this 6-3 comeback win in Sherwood Park, the 58th win of the season including BCHL and AJHL games. Brooks went 7 for 7 on the penalty kill, which led to back-to-back goals from Wallace to erase a 3-2 deficit in the 3rd, while a Jordan Hughesman (Winnipeg, MB) empty-netter sealed the comeback win.

April 6, 2024 @ Sherwood Park
Bandits 3, Crusaders 6

Despite outshooting the Crusaders 36-32, the Bandits lone loss to Sherwood Park came in the regular season finale. The Bandits converted twice on the powerplay with goals from Parker Lalonde (Aberdeen, SK) and Peluso. It also was the first time all season the Crusaders scored on the Bandits penalty kill.

The winner of this series will represent Alberta in the Rocky Mountain Challenge vs the the winner of the BCHL’s Fred Page Cup. The final four in BC has the Penticton Vees facing the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, while the Surrey Eagles will square off against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. The Rocky Mountain Challenge best-of-three series goes May 31 to June 2, hosted by the Alberta team.