ESTEVAN, Sask. – The Brooks Bandits have won the 2022 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, scoring four times in the third period to claim Canada’s 50th National Junior A Championship with a thrilling 4-1 win over the Pickering Panthers on Sunday night.
With the win, Brooks becomes the fourth team to win back-to-back national titles - joining Vernon (1990-91 and 2009-10) and Prince Albert (1981-82) - and the third team to win at least three championships, along with Vernon (six) and Prince Albert (four).
Ethan Doyle (Whitby, Ont.) scored the lone goal of the first period for Pickering and Zachary Roy (Callander, Ont.) made 28 saves through the first two periods, backstopping the Panthers to a 1-0 lead heading into the final frame.
Brooks stormed back in the third, with Aiden Fink (Calgary, Alta.) getting the Bandits on the board at 6:54 and Devin Phillips (Raleigh, N.C.) scoring 14 seconds later to put the AJHL champions ahead for good. Ryan McAllister (London, Ont.) added two goals in the final seven minutes to help the Bandits secure the victory.
“[Pickering] slowed us down, they slowed the game down and credit to them for the game plan, because it worked,” said Brooks head coach Ryan Papaioannou. “We felt like if we got one, we would be completely fine because they’d have to change how they’d play and we might be able to break it open. It was a nerve-wracking game; I thought our emotions on the bench were a little bit up and down, luckily [Fink] got one to get us started.”
“They had a good game plan; they weren’t scared of blocking shots, so we just had to break that with our movement in the offensive zone,” said Brooks captain Ethan Lund (Calgary, Alta.). “This is the best group I’ve ever been a part of and it’s an amazing feeling [to win]. I had the first [national championship] my first year [in 2019], which was amazing, just getting that taste. Now having a bigger role, it’s an incredibly great feeling.”
Goaltender Ethan Barwick (St. Albert, Alta.) recorded 10 saves for the win.
Full game stats and story are available at HockeyCanada.ca.
Brooks finished first in Group A in the preliminary round with four wins in as many games. The Bandits defeated Longueuil (5-2), Red Lake (11-4), Pickering (9-1) and Estevan (4-1) before an 11-2 semifinal win over Longueuil on Saturday.
Portage la Prairie, Man., and the Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League will play host to the 51st edition of Canada’s National Junior A Championship in May 2023 with final dates and format to be finalized.
For more information on the Centennial Cup, please visit HockeyCanada.ca or follow along via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.