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Wednesday, 22 May 2013 10:54

Ex-Bronco now a national hockey champion

Written by  Brad Brown
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Brooks' centre Brandon Bruce, right, gets some help from teammate Patrick Lee to get a Southside Capitals' forward off of him. Brooks' centre Brandon Bruce, right, gets some help from teammate Patrick Lee to get a Southside Capitals' forward off of him. Photo by Phil MacCallum Hockey Canada Images

When the final buzzer sounded on the national junior A hockey championship game, a part of Brandon Bruce was already thinking about the next game.

Except there were no more to play.
Bruce and the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits avenged a round-robin loss to the host team with a 3-1 win over the Summerside Capitals to cap a fairytale season and win the RBC Cup national title.
“It’s finally starting to hit me right now,” said Bruce, who was dealt to Brooks in late November from the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials.
“It’s a great feeling but it doesn’t quite hit you at the time because it happens to so few guys where you actually get to go out with the win. You’re always getting ready for the next game or the next series, so it’s weird to think that there’s no more hockey, that we’ve won the big trophy.”
The former Swift Current Broncos forward was admittedly shocked when he was dealt from the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials to the Bandits in late-November.
But they say nothing else matters when you’re winning, and win they did.
Brooks outscored its first six opponents 44-9 and rattled off 11 wins in a row after the trade en route to the best regular season in AJHL history.
“It was a big change from playing in Merritt where we were winning games by one or two goals and were more of a dump-and-forecheck kind of team, to blowing teams out of the water,” said Bruce, who played 34 games for the Broncos in 2010-11.
Bruce rewarded the team’s faith in him with 11 points in 17 league playoff games, and added a goal and an assist each at the Western Canada Cup and RBC Cup tournaments.
His teammates repaid the favour when, up 2-1 in the championship game, they killed off Bruce’s third-period slashing penalty.
“I had taken some dumb penalties in the round-robin and the last couple games I was trying to focus before the game that I would contain myself with that extra whack or whatever,” he said. “I thought it was a soft call, but I went to the box and just hoped this wouldn’t be the mistake that let them tie it up, and everyone left everything on the line.”
Another former Bronco, Trevor Cameron, and the Surrey Eagles were oh-so-close to making it an all-Western final but lost their semifinal 3-2 in overtime to Summerside.
Cameron finished the tournament with three goals and two assists after posting 34 points in 53 games during the regular season, nine points in 17 BCHL playoff games and six points in five games at the Western Canada Cup.
Cameron played 53 WHL games in Swift Current over two seasons from 2011-12.
“We had a good tournament,” he said Monday. “We used our speed really well and I thought we were the best skating team here.
“When it came down to it we were playing the host team and they really stuck to us, not the whole game, but it was a level playing field and a really good hockey game through three periods.”

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