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Game Recap: Bucks down Bandits in Preseason Debut

The band is back together!

The Cranbrook Bucks stepped back on the ice Saturday night to kick off their BCHL preseason schedule with a tune up versus the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL – the defending Centennial Cup champions.

Cranbrook jumped out to an impressive start in the first period. Carter Schmidt earned the distinction of scoring Cranbrook’s first preseason goal at 9:20 to take a 1-0 lead, Luke Pfoh and Jarrod Smith picked up assists on the play. Newcomer Donovan Frias padded the Bucks’ lead to 2-0 at 11:30. The Bucks picked up another goal at 14:15 following a scramble deep in Bandits territory. Cranbrook held a 3-0 lead after the first 20 minutes. Goaltender Nathan Airey was sharp – turning aside all 9 Bandits shots in the opening frame.

Brooks managed to fend off a couple of Cranbrook power plays through the first half of the second period, and they were rewarded with a goal from Hudson Malinoski at 11:01 to cut the Bucks’ lead to 3-1. The road team managed to regain their three-goal lead with time dwindling in the second period, a neutral zone turnover led to an odd man rush for the Bucks and Jarrod Smith hit the twin off a nice feed from Luke Pfoh at 18:01 to put Cranbrook up 4-1. The Bandits managed to steal one back with a buzzer-beater from Dominick Cmapione to cut Cranbrook’s lead to 4-2 after two periods. The Bucks outshot Brooks 12-8 in the middle stanza.

The third period was a good one for Cranbrook. The Bucks managed to hold the defending national champions off the scoreboard through the final twenty minutes. Cranbrook added one more goal at 5:05 via Bauer Morrissey off a faceoff win in the Bandits zone to put a cap on an impressive 5-2 win in their first dose of preseason action.

The Bucks benefited from a strong showing from Nathan Airey between the pipes, he turned aside 25 of 27 shots from Brooks – the Bucks fired 26 shots on Bandits goalie Ethan Barwick. Neither team was able to pick up a power play goal despite multiple attempts for both sides, the Bandits went 0/4 and the Bucks finished 0/6 with the man advantage.

Cranbrook is off to a 1-0 start in preseason action, they continue their Alberta exhibition excursion with a matchup versus the Okotoks Oilers Sunday afternoon. The Bucks finish preseason play in a home-and-home with the Trail Smoke Eaters next weekend. They play in Trail Friday, September 16 and in Cranbrook on Saturday, September 17.

Buck Tracks:
– Two points for Jarrod Smith (1g, 1a).
– Several Bucks newcomers factor into scoring; Markus Yim (1a), Cooper Boulanger (1a), Julian Frias (1a), Donovan Frias (1g), Matthew Duarte (1g), Jaxon Fuder (1a).
– Cranbrook’s preseason record is 6-0 dating back to 2021 (includes exhibition game vs Team Canada National Women’s Team October 5, 2021) – 5-0 in 2021, 1-0 in 2022.
– Regular season starts September 23 in Merritt!