Moose Jaw’s Caelan Fitzpatrick is probably feeling a little déjà vu, as he returns to the National Junior A Centennial Cup for the second consecutive year, this time it’s with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits.
Last year, Fitzpatrick was a part of the Estevan Bruins who not only hosted the Centennial Cup but won the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League title.
“It’s exciting to be back at the national tournament again,” says Fitzpatrick. “With a different team is cool just to see how they do things compared to Estevan and hope for a better outcome this time.”
The Bruins didn’t have the national tournament they would have hoped for, finishing with a 1-3 record.
That all could change for Fitzpatrick, as his Bandits are coming off a 53-win season, a regular season title, and an AJHL championship taking down the Spruce Grove Saints in five games.
It’s safe to say that Fitzpatrick and the Bandits are playing some of their best hockey of the season heading into the national tournament.
“We’ve been preparing for this all year, and this has been an end goal for the team. Everything we’ve done all year has led up to this moment. We’re feeling confident in the group of guys that we have and let’s get the job done.”
Fitzpatrick had himself an exceptional season on the ice notching 51 points in 53 regular season games, and then adding another 16 points in 15 playoff games.
He says that a big part of his success has been who his linemates have been this season.
“Brendan Poshak and Keith Armstrong, we have just been building our chemistry throughout the year and then it was playoffs we stepped up to the plate and produced pretty good throughout the playoffs.”
Brooks will kick off their tournament in Portage la Prairie on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. CDT, against the Yarmouth Mariners of the Maritime Junior Hockey League (MHL).
Fitzpatrick will also be joined at the tournament by his brother Liam, who just graduated from the Moose Jaw U18 AAA Warriors program leading the team in scoring with 73 points in 44 games within the Saskatchewan Male U18 AAA Hockey League (SMAAAHL).
Liam previously signed with Brooks for the 2023-24 season and will be traveling with the team to Portage la Prairie but will not be playing.
“It’s pretty cool, especially for him to see what a national tournament is like from the perspective of the team because not a lot of players get to do that.”
In addition, Caelan will be joined by two other Moose Jaw Minor Hockey products Kirk Mullen and Brydon Bell.
Mullen plays for the Steinbach Pistons of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), while Bell plays out east with the Kam River Fighting Walleye from the Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL).
“I’m very excited for both of them and I think it would be pretty cool to play against them and have a little rivalry going in this tournament.”
Unfortunately, Fitzpatrick will be able to play against his former minor hockey teammates, as the Bandits are in Group A, while the Pistons and Fighting Walleye are in Group B.
You can follow along with the 2023 National Junior A Centennial Cup HERE.