Friday, 14 September 2018 07:31

Plessis named Brooks Bandits captain

Written by  Tyler King
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The Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) have named the captains who will lead the team into their hosting of the 2019 National Junior A Championship.


In his third year as a Bandit, 1998-born forward Nathan Plessis (Salmon Arm, B.C.) will serve as team captain, becoming the fourth Bandit captain to lead a team into a national championship tournament after Cam Maclise (Lacombe, AB) in 2013, Derek Lodermeier (Brooklyn Center, MN) in 2016, and Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, AB) in 2017.

1998-born forwards Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, ON) and Jake Theis (Chanhassen, MN) will continue to serve as alternate captains, while 1999-born defenceman Brandon Scanlin (Hamilton, ON) was also named an alternate captain.

“I am excited for all of our captains today, who have shown an ability through training camp to separate themselves in terms of their maturity,” said Bandits head coach and general manager Ryan Papaioannou. “We are lucky to be surrounded by Nathan Plessis, Arnaud Vachon and Jake Theis who are third-year Bandits and have won their way within a goal of the National Championship during their rookie season.

“Moving forward, we can lean on not only their leadership but their experience. Brandon Scanlin rounds out the group as a second year Bandit who exemplifies all the qualities we value as a coaching staff,” he added. "We have some great leaders outside this group but our players and staff were united in these choices and we are looking forward to working on our culture every day."

The reigning winner of the team’s Most Improved Player Award, Plessis, 20, is the team’s highest goal-scoring returning player, having notched 21 in the 2017-18 campaign, more than tripling the total from his rookie season. His point scoring totals nearly doubled as well from 22 to 43, in the same 51 games played as in his first season with the team. In 102 regular season games as a Bandit, Plessis has scored 65 points (27 goals, 38 assists), adding 20 points (9 goals, 11 assists) in 33 postseason games.

He was originally recruited to the Bandits in 2016 from the Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL), where he had led his team in scoring with 41 points (22 goals, 19 assists) in 50 games in his second year of junior hockey.

In two short years, Vachon, 20, has developed into one of the top offensive threats in the AJHL, scoring 42 goals over his first two years with the team.  He scored the fifth-most goals in the 2017 AJHL playoffs, finding the back of the net 8 times in just 13 games. A well-rounded player known increasingly for his penalty killing prowess, Vachon won the team’s Hustler of the Year Award in his rookie campaign, and its Unsung Hero award last year.

In total, Vachon has dressed in 112 regular season games with the Bandits, scoring 73 points (42 goals, 31 assists). He joined the team in 2016 after scoring 112 points (49 goals, 63 assists) in 73 games with The Hill Academy prep school in Concord, Ontario, and committed last March to Colgate University for the 2019-20 NCAA Division I season.

Named the Top Defensive Forward for the team last season, Theis, 20, was one of only two players on the team to dress in all 60 regular season games. In addition to his outstanding defensive and physical play, Theis nearly doubled his offensive numbers last season to a 38-point campaign (11 goals, 27 assists), registering the fifth-most assists on the team.

Theis joined the team in 2016 after a four-year career at Chanhassen High School in his hometown, where he led the team in scoring in his final year with 31 points (16 goals, 15 assists) in 25 games. With the Bandits, he has now dressed in 115 regular season games, scoring 58 points (18 goals, 40 assists).

Perhaps one of the most underrated defencemen in the AJHL last season, Scanlin, 19, was the Bandits’ Rookie of the Year, and the second-highest scoring rookie defenceman in the league with 41 points (8 goals, 33 assists) in 58 games, which also ranked sixth overall among league defencemen. His offensive prowess continued into his first playoff campaign, in which he added 7 points (1 goal, 6 assists) in only 9 games. He secured his NCAA Division I future just two months into his Junior A career, committing to Colgate University in November of last year.

He was recruited to the team from the Brantford 99ers, then of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL), where he was a conference all-star and scored 57 points (6 goals, 51 assists) in 99 games over two seasons.

The Bandits and their new captains will open the 2018-19 season tomorrow night against the Drumheller Dragons at 7:30 PM in Drumheller, before travelling to Calgary to take on the Canucks on Sunday afternoon. They return to Brooks for the Western Financial Bandits Home Opener on Friday, September 21st at 7:00 PM, with fans invited to a free tailgate barbecue at the arena from 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM. Tickets are available online at tickets.brooksbandits.ca.

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