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   The number one ranked Junior A team in Canada lived up to its expectations in Brooks this past weekend.
The Penticton Vees arrived in town early to begin Doyle Cup play and left town with two victories over the Brooks Bandits. They now hold a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series with the remaining games slated for Penticton.
The Doyle Cup was officially started with a faceoff involving Bob and Wendy Crosby. Their son played for the Bandits the previous season before passing away in a motor vehicle accident last summer.
The Alberta Junior Hockey League champion Brooks Bandits struggled in all departments Friday and found themselves on the short end of a 7-2 decision. The game was played before a near sellout crowd of 2,140 spectators.
The Vees controlled the play to the Bandits from the drop of the puck, scoring three powerplay goals and one shorthanded marker.
The Bandits never quit but were unable to mark any sustained attack.
Penticton, who won 54 of 60 games played and established a 29-0-0-1 home record, opened the scoring at 7:27 on the power play on a shot by Logan Johnston.
Mario Lucia, picked 60th overall in last year’s National Hockey League draft by the Minnesota Wild, closed out the period scoring with a shorthanded marker that came on a two-on-one break at 13:37. Lucia finished the game with one goal and three assists.
Brooks goaltender Jan Obernesser was tested nine times in the period while Chad Katunar faced seven shots. Katunar is the team’s backup goaltender. He entered the contest with 12 playoff wins. The team’s top goaltender, Michael Garteig was injured three weeks before the playoffs got underway.
Play in the second period had Logan Johnston connecting on a two-on-one break at 1:54 to up the count to 3-0.
Bandits fans were given something to cheer about when defenseman Colton Semenok connected on an end-to-end rush. Semenok blew past two defenders in the Brooks end and continued to elude members of the Vees until he deposited a backhand through the pads of Katunar at 5:49 for an unassisted marker.
Wade Murphy restored his team’s three goal lead at 9:05 but the Bandits cut into the deficit once again when Chris Muscoby (assist David Watt) scored on the power play at 9:34.
The Bandits outshot the Vees 10-7.
Both teams directed nine shots on net in the final frame but it was the Vees who made the most of their scoring opportunities.
Bandits goaltender Jan Obernesser struggled with his play throughout the game. He surrendered goals by Joey Benik and Bryce Gervais before giving way to Michael Fredrick who was beaten by Troy Stecher for a powerplay goal at 8:40.
The Bandits outshot the Vees 26-25 and were good on one of four chances with the man advantage. The Vees connected on two of six opportunities.
Play Saturday night had the Bandits deserving a better fate as they outshot the Vees 43-30 but could not beat Michael Garteig.
The Vees had their chances but goaltender Jan Obernesser was also sharp and only gave up one goal on the power play. As a result, the Bandits were downed 1-0.
The Bandits threw everything they could at the goaltender starting early with Dakota Mason, RJ Reed and Mark Reners controlling the play in the Brooks end. The trio had their chances but could not beat the goaltender.
The lone goal of the game came shortly after the Bandits were assessed a too many men on the ice penalty.
Wade Murphy was parked at the side of the net and delivered a hard shot past Obernesser at 5:48.
The Bandits showed their grit when the team found itself playing two men short for 1:01. Try as they might, the Vees could not break though a defensive line set up by the Bandits. As a result, Obernesser was only tested two times.
The Brooks goaltender did have to come up big and was particularly sharp in denying a point blank shot by Steven Fogarty.
At the other end of the rink, Garteig robbed forward Mark Reners from close range and made another quality stop off Maddison Smiley.
Defensively, 20-year-old David Watt was a huge support to his goaltender. Watt used his stick to knock the puck of Troy Stecher’s stick as he skated in on a partial breakaway.
The Bandits outshot the Vees 18-9 in the period.
Second period action had the Bandits continuing to pour on the pressure. Cam Maclise, who had several excellent chances, was denied as was Anthony Petruzzelli. Petruzzelli’s best chance in the period came when he stole the puck behind the Penticton net and just failed to capitalize on a wrap around shot.
At the other end of the ice, Obernesser’s best friends were the goal posts after two shots found nothing but metal. He also made a huge sprawling save to deny Mario Lucia from scoring on a close range shot. This was followed by another quality stop off a backhand shot from Logan Johnston.
The Bandits never quit and continued to take the play to the Vees, outshooting them 14-9.
Coach and general manager Ryan Papaioannou’s team had their chances in the final frame as well.
They began the period with a power play for 1:29 but failed to get a shot on net.
Mark Reners had one of the best chances in the period but Garteig was not about to be beaten.
The Vees scored on one of six chances with the man advantage while the Bandits came up short on seven power play opportunities.
The game was played before 1,767 spectators.
The Bandits boarded a bus Sunday morning for their trip to Penticton. They played game three on Tuesday night (results not available by press time). Game four is scheduled for Wednesday, April 25. Should a fifth game be necessary, it will be played on Friday. Game six is scheduled for Saturday and game seven is scheduled for Sunday.

Vees Live Up to Top Billing
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