Flyers overpower Jr. Bisons
Hockey: High River takes it to Okotoks in 6-2 win
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 02, 2013 06:00 am
The High River Flyers provided their youthful league rivals a rude awakening to life in the Junior B ranks.
Behind a four-goal effort from sniper Alex Pronchuk the High River Flyers outmuscled the Okotoks Bisons en route to a 6-2 blowout, Friday at the Murray Arena.
“We out battled them and were extremely physical right from the get-go,” Pronchuk said. “Once they were a little timid, we turned it on and pucks started bouncing our way and we capitalized on our scoring chances.
“Every time we play Okotoks we know there’s a little more on the line than two points. It’s a bit of a pride thing. To come into their barn and steal two points, it means the year to us.”
The Flyers have made a habit of early season success over their neighbours to the north. Friday’s victory marked the third season in a row High River won the first meeting between the clubs.
“The last two years in the first week High River has beaten us and we’ve come back to win the league,” said Bisons coach Blake Wildeman. “We wear a bull’s-eye. It’s not hard for them to find the motivation to come ready to play us.
“Everybody wants to beat the Yankees.”
Bison winger Kevan Mikkelsen, one of the lone bright spots for the home team, said the Okotoks rookies weren’t quite ready for the intensity of the rivalry on the heels of a more subdued game with Banff.
“They didn’t know what was coming,” he said. “We tried to prepare them, but the only way they could know is by being a part of it.”
The visitors didn’t waste any time making their presence felt.
Pronchuk opened the scoring just four minutes in when the puck trickled to the slot for a clean shot over a screened Alex Bilton in net. The High River native doubled the lead on a five-on-three powerplay when he was given acres of space in the slot to roof a backhand into the yawning cage.
The Flyers were beating the hosts in the alley as well, as bone-jarring hits by Pronchuk and Tanner Franson gave the upstart visitors a big lift heading into the intermission.
Pronchuk didn’t waste any time completing the hat-trick. Three minutes into the middle stanza the left-winger tallied on a breakaway to add to the Bisons’ misery. Okotoks answered back on a rare powerplay opportunity as Phil Dillon fed a cross-crease pass for Mikkelsen to loft into the top corner.
Flyer Kade Bleackley wrestled momentum right back with his second goal of the campaign.
The physical intensity then reached a boiling point when Dillon and Flyers pugilist Mitch Gallagher exchanged punches and dinner plans prior to being kicked out of the game.
The fisticuffs seemed to charge the Bisons as the herd responded with their best phase of the contest with great work on the cycle. First-year Bison Wyatt Little Chief made good on the onslaught, banging home a rebound for his first tally in Okotoks.
In the final frame, Pronchuk wasn’t quite finished for the evening. He put in his fourth marker shorthanded by taking advantage of a Bisons’ turnover inside their blueline.
Flyer Sheh Gallamore repeated the feat shorthanded to put the finishing touches on a priceless four-goal win for the visitors.
“It’s bittersweet because I’ve been playing in this rink since I was three,” said Flyers captain Ryan Midtdal, an Okotokian. “But any wins against these guys are huge. It’s a big morale booster.”
Meanwhile, It’s back to the drawing board for the youthful Bisons who will look to use the decisive defeat as fuel for their competitive fire.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys coming out of Midget, we’ve got some guys that need to learn what it takes to win,” Wildeman said. “We’re trying to replace the (veteran) goals we lost last year. We’re going to have to play that workmanlike hockey.
“It’s a feeling out process right now.”
The Bisons (1-1) get back on home ice Friday when they welcome the Mountainview Colts to the Murray for an 8 p.m. puck-drop. Okotoks then will look to take a bite out of the host Coaldale Copperheads during a Saturday meeting.