New year, same result for dominant Bisons
Hockey: Okotoks edges Medicine Hat 2-1 in 2013 premiere
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 09, 2013 06:00 am
The Okotoks Bisons took the road less travelled to a familiar destination in their 2013 debut.
An uncharacteristic defensive stalemate ensued and the Junior B Bisons escaped Medicine Hat with a 2-1 victory over the Cubs on Jan. 5 in Okotoks’ lowest-scoring game of the season.
“It’s the first skate since Dec. 16,” said Bisons general manager Jay McFarlane “We didn’t get a practice in so I knew we would probably have our challenges.
“The (Cubs) are well coached and played a structured defensive game with a 1-2-2 in every zone.”
The opening frame saw Ty Fehr get the visitors on the board five minutes in with the assists going to longtime linemate Phil Dillon and new addition Spencer Samuel who was making his Bison debut.
Samuel was back at it eight minutes later scoring what would hold up to be the game-winning marker. Josh Marshall replied for Medicine Hat in the late stages of the opening frame.
The defensive clamps were put on for the remaining 40 minutes as the Bisons were limited to just 27 shots on Cub netminder Cole Schafer while Okotoks held Medicine Hat to just 20 pucks fired on goalie Alex Bilton.
“We had some issues in firing goals into the net,” McFarlane said. “Their goaltender, that being said, also played well.”
The two-time defending league champions’ first on-ice action in 20 days came with its expected rust.
“Mentally they were happy to be back,” McFarlane said. “It was a different team before the break where they were kind of exhausted and a little distracted.”
The narrow victory improved Okotoks’ unbeaten streak to 27 games and gave the Bisons (27-2-1) a commanding 22-point lead in the South Division standings of the Heritage Junior B Hockey League.
Okotoks returns to its normal weekend schedule with three games in three nights starting on Friday in Three Hills. The Bisons then travel north to square off with heated-rival Strathmore on Saturday and race home to welcome the High River Flyers to the Murray Arena on Sunday at 1:15 p.m.
“We will be set up for that three-game weekend coming up after we get three practices in this week,” McFarlane said.
Final roster deadline looms
The Okotoks Bisons will have to tinker with what has been a winning formula all season.
The Bisons’ brass will have to cut the current roster of 25 players to the league maximum of 23 by the final roster deadline on Jan. 10.
The addition of Samuel and return of sniper Jordan Eddy — who played the first 10 games of the season with Okotoks and recorded 18 points, but has been out of the lineup due to work commitments — likely means a pair of forwards will be facing an exodus.
“We’re looking at two forwards right now that we’re going to have to adjust,” McFarlane said. “We’re happy with seven defencemen and having that extra guy and there are a couple players that can play both positions from the front-end.”
For more information on the Bisons go to www.okotoksbisons.com.