Hometown hopefuls dreaming of Bisons blue
Hockey: Midget AA graduates look to catch on with Junior B champs
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 09:48 pm
Childhood dreams are being fulfilled and the puck hasn’t yet dropped on another Okotoks Jr. B Bisons regular season.
Hard-nosed defenceman Hunter Young has been a Bisons supporter since moving to Okotoks from Valleyview in his first year of Peewee hockey.
“I’ve been watching this team play since I moved here so it’s pretty cool to be playing for them now,” Young said. “It’s just surreal, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
After starring on the Okotoks Midget AA Oilers as a physical presence on the blueline, Young admitted he’s still finding his way in the Junior B jungle.
“I played Midget as a big hitting, gritty player which is obviously a big change here,” Young said. “It’s harder for me to do it against those bigger guys. But I’m going to do keep doing my best to keep playing good defensive defence and do what the coaches want me to do.”
Okotoks prospect Harrison Smith can relate.
The big-bodied winger is used to throwing his weight around and coming out on top of shoulder-to-shoulder collisions.
“I’ve had to adapt a lot, it’s quicker and you have to keep your head up,” said Smith.
“I really want to make this team so I’m going to do whatever I can to get on.”
The recent Holy Trinity Academy graduate, who was sidelined for much of his senior year with the Midget AA Oilers, figures his rugged wing play is suited to the rough and tumble Heritage Junior B Hockey League.
“Last year I broke my arm twice and ever since then I’ve been focused on making this team. This is it for me so I’m going to go balls-to-the-wall,” Smith said. “It’s a really good organization, good coaching, good place to be.
“It’s definitely a winning team and I want to be a part of that.”
Bisons general manager Jay McFarlane said he’s been impressed with the Okotoks duo through training camp and exhibition.
“Smith’s a gritty little player, he’s well-rounded and not afraid to get in and he admits that’s one of the enjoyments of running on the wing and taking the body,” McFarlane said. “We’re looking to see what kind of offensive talents he has from a finishing standpoint.
“And Hunter Young I don’t think you’re going to see a lot offensive rushes, but he’s comfortable to stay-at-home and keep it safe which is great for us, too.”
Midget AA Oilers captain Trent Schussler, sidelined with an eye injury, is also expected to join the Bisons fold this weekend.
McFarlane said giving the Midget graduates a Junior home is what the Bisons organization is all about.
“That’s why we’re here. If the kids are looking for a place to play and Junior A doesn’t happen for them then this is the next best spot,” he said.
“That’s one of our main goals is to make sure the graduated Midget players have a place to go and those two are just another example.”
Okotoks concludes its exhibition schedule with a home-and-home set against the Cochrane Generals this weekend. The Bisons host the front-end on Friday, 7:15 p.m. at Murray Arena and travel to Cochrane for a Saturday night face-off.
The Bisons open their regular season on Sept. 20 when the Banff Bears claw their way to town.
For more information on the Bisons log on to okotoksbisons.com