Photo - Em Rose Photography:
The Brooks Bandits were presented with the Dave Duchak Trophy as the AJHL Regular Season Champions at their final game of the season on Saturday night. The Bandits earned the annual honour with a record of 51-5-4 and 106 points. The South Division team led the league with the Most Wins, Fewest Loses, Most Points, Most Goals For and Fewest Goals Against. The Bandits become just the fifth team in Alberta Junior Hockey League history to register 51 wins in a season.
The annual award was named after David Duchak, the first Commissioner of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
The 2016-2017 Bandits will enter the AJHL Record Book in several areas including; fourth in the category of Most Wins in a Single Season (51), fourth in the category of Fewest Loses in a Single Season (5), and third in the area of Most Points in a Single Season (106). The team will also enter the League Record Book in the top ten for Most Goals For (294), and third in the area of Fewest Goals Against (107).
The Brooks Bandits completed the regular season with three players in the top ten of the AJHL Scoring Race, and goaltender Mitchel Benson leading all AJHL goalies with a 1.73 GAA. Bandits defenceman Cale Makar was selected as the 2016-2017 Alberta Junior Hockey League MVP and Outstanding Defenceman. Forward Oliver Chau captured the Dick White Trophy as 2016-2017 AJHL Rookie of the Year.
Brooks was listed as number one in the CJHL Top 20 Weekly Rankings for the last five consecutive weeks as they ended the regular season 9-1-0 in their final 10 games. Through December and January, the Brooks Bandits won 17 consecutive games and became just the seventh team in AJHL history to compile such a streak. The 2015-2016 Bandits were the most recent team to register this same success.
The Brooks Bandits previously clinched the Dave Duchak Trophy in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013. The team would go on to win the AJHL Title in both 2012 and 2013 as well as 2016.
Brooks Bandits goaltenders Mitchel Benson and Alex Horawski were awarded as the recipients of the Reebok / CCM Top Team Goaltenders Award on Saturday night in Brooks as well. The Top Team Goaltenders award is presented annually to the goaltenders of the team with the lowest goals against average (GAA) in the regular season. The Bandits posted a 1.78 GAA in the 2016-2017 season.
Michel Benson (Windsor, ON) led all AJHL goaltenders in multiple categories including; the lowest goal against average (1.73 GAA), most wins (36), most shutouts (7) and highest save percentage (.929%). He held an impressive regular season record of 36-3-2. Alex Horawski (Toronto, ON) posted a 13-2-0 record with 3 shutouts in his 16 games played for the Bandits.
The Bandits recorded 10 shutouts and allowed only 107 goals against, both of which will enter the AJHL Record Book. Benson will also enter the League Record Book among the top ten goalies of all time under the categories of Shutouts (7), GAA (1.73 GAA), and Save Percentage (.929%).
The last Bandits duo to receive the Top Team Goaltenders Award was Devon Fordyce and Michael Fredrick in 2012-2013 with a 1.88 GAA.
By securing 1st place in the Viterra AJHL South Division, the Brooks Bandits have also guaranteed themselves a first round bye in the 2017 AJHL Gas Drive Playoffs.
A complete schedule for the 2017 AJHL Gas Drive Cup Playoffs is available on the AJHL website AJHL.ca. Each of the Round One divisional best-of-five series will begin on Thursday, March 9th. The top seven teams in each division qualify for the AJHL Playoffs with the highest ranked seed awarded home ice advantage.