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Brooks Bandits look to threepeat as AJHL champs

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It was another incredible regular season for the Brooks Bandits.  They had a 53-5-1-1 record, the best in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Forward Aiden Fink played a big role in the team's success this season.  He led the league in scoring with 41 goals and 56 assists, in addition to being named the AJHL's top forward and league MVP.

Fink said the individual accomplishments are nice but he's got his eye on the bigger picture.

"Yeah obviously it's pretty cool to win the MVP and stuff but honestly right now I'm focussed on winning a national championship with these guys," the 18-year-old said.

"These guys have put in the work all year and you know I'm very excited to start playoffs."

BANDITS OPEN UP WITH OILERS

The Bandits start their quest for their third straight AJHL championship Friday night as they take on the Okotoks Oilers in the second round of the playoffs.

These two teams have developed a pretty good rivalry and Fink is expecting a good series.

"Yeah I'm definitely looking forward to you know, it's always fun playing Okotoks.  They always give us their best and we hope to come out with a win," said the Bandits alternate captain.

NOT FEELING EXTRA PRESSURE

Bandits forward Heath Armstrong is also from Calgary.  The 20-year-old had a solid season notching 13 goals and adding 43 assists.

He says it's always fun playing the Oilers.

"Yeah I'm really excited," he said.

"We've got some bad blood I think between us but it will make for a good series.

Everyone always brings their best against us so we face this every night.  I don't think there's any pressure.  We've just got to go out and do what we do best and we'll win."

NEW STORY

The Bandits are always one of the top teams in Canada. Not only have they won the last two AJHL championships, they're also the defending national champs.

Assistant coach Taylor Makin says you can always look back on that, but for now it's in the past.

"The story for us this year with our guys is just writing our own story as a team," Makin said.

"You know last years team was a special group, but now we have another special group this year with new guys. We have some guys who are looking to win their first championship and some guys here that are looking to repeat, so it's a new group with fresh faces and we've just got to go out and handle our business."

LONG LAYOFF

The Bandits had a first round bye in the playoffs so they haven't played a game since March 5th.

Fink doesn't think rust will be an issue.

"I feel like our practice have been really high tempo the last three weeks and I think we've been preparing really well."

The series between the Bandits and Oilers begins with the first two games in Brooks on Friday and Saturday night.

The series then shifts to Okotoks for games three and four on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

If necessary, game five will be played in Brooks next Friday.  Game six is scheduled for Okotoks on Sunday and if they need to go seven, it will be played in Brooks on Tuesday April 4th.

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