Bisons marshal Generals out of the playoffs
Hockey: First round sweep of Cochrane advances Okotoks to semifinal
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 06, 2013 11:38 pm
Game 1: Medicine Hat at Okotoks, Murray Arena, March 8 at 8 p.m.
Game 2: Okotoks at Medicine Hat, Kinplex, March 9 at 7:15 p.m.
Game 3: Medicine Hat at Okotoks, Murray Arena, March 10 at 4:30 p.m.
Game 4: Okotoks at Medicine Hat, Kinplex, March 13 at 7:45 p.m.
*Game 5: Medicine Hat at Okotoks, Murray Arena, March 15 at 8 p.m.
*Game 6: Okotoks at Medicine Hat, Kinplex, March 17 at 5:45 p.m.
*Game 7: Medicine Hat at Okotoks, Murray Arena, March 18 at 8 p.m.
Behind a balanced a scoring attack it was smooth sailing to the Heritage Junior Hockey League semifinals for the Okotoks Bisons.
The Bisons made quick work of the Cochrane Generals in the quarter-final playoff series, ousting the South Division rival in a four-game sweep completed via a 6-4 road win on Saturday evening.
Okotoks received contributions throughout the lineup in the four-game series with 13 Bisons registering at least a point in the sweep.
“The first game Dillon Loomer and Jeremy Smith were the only ones to score and (Cochrane) kind of caught on that was our go-to-line,” said Bisons forward Phil Dillon. “They focused on shutting them down and they did to an extent and then that just gave other lines the opportunity to score and that’s what helped.”
The newly composed second line of Dillon, Jordan Eddy and Spencer Samuel showed immediate chemistry and gave the Bisons more than ample secondary scoring. Dillon and Eddy finished with a team-high 10 points each in the series.
“Jordan’s a good passer, Spencer’s a good passer and it just seems to work and several times all three of us would get points on the goals,” said Dillon, who’s slowly getting used to life on a line without teammate Ty Fehr. “It’s definitely different. It’s like a divorce. It affected everybody on the team.”
Bisons general manager Jay McFarlane said the prolific play of the trio along with a dangerous third line featuring Fehr, Brodie Eisbrenner and Zak Johns creates considerable matchup problems for the opposition.
“It takes some pressure of our top line of (Chase) Fallis, Smith and Loomer,” McFarlane said. “When teams look to match lines they’ve got three solid lines of offensive wave that come at them. It’s difficult to counter.”
Following a 3-2 win in the series opener, the Bisons rallied for a 3-0 shutout Wednesday in Cochrane, doubled the Generals 6-3 Friday in Okotoks and finished off the series with a 6-4 victory on Saturday.
“I think if we’re being true to the comparison of the two teams we had a more talented team and certainly a focused and experienced team that was ready,” noted McFarlane. “We probably had one bad period (in Game 1) to start the whole series and for the rest of it we were on our way.”
The sweep of the Generals booked Okotoks to trip to a best-out-of-seven semifinal with the Medicine Hat Cubs.
The Bisons won all four matchups with Medicine Hat in the regular season, though the final two meetings between the clubs were decided by one-goal.
The Cubs, third-place finishers in the South Division with a record of 23-10-1-4, feature offensive firepower in last year’s league points leader Kyle Funk and steady goaltending from rookie netminder Cole Schafer, a league high 20-game winner in the regular season.
“They’re definitely a good team and have one top line with Funk and we’re going to have to focus on that and take advantage of homc-ice when it comes to matching lines,” McFarlane said. “Beyond that we just have to continue to play our game and that’s how we’ve been successful all year.”
Medicine Hat eliminated the Coaldale Copperheads in the other South division quarterfinal winning the series 4-1, with three victories coming in overtime.
“It was a fantastic series. We have a great rivalry with Coaldale and it didn’t disappoint,” said Cubs general manager Bill Berard. “It just came down to specialty teams.”
The Medicine Hat general manager expects penalties to play a big role again in the upcoming best-of-seven tilt.
“We have to stay out of the penalty box because they’ll kill us if we take penalties,” Berard said. “We know we can play against them we just have to prove we can be as disciplined. The Bisons you always know what you get, a top-team and they have been for years, a very disciplined team and very hard to play against.”
Dillon maintained the importance of not giving the Cubs any cause for momentum by staying out of the box and burying Medicine Hat with the potent Bisons’ man-advantage in the series.
“They play really well in their arena, they finish their checks, they’re intimidating and are all big guys too,” Dillon said. “We just have to battle through that and give it back.”