Bisons clinging to division lead
Hockey: Okotoks bounces back from Friday loss to salvage weekend
By: Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 06:00 am
The Okotoks Jr. B Bisons just aren’t used to sharing their winnings.
After seeing their division lead fall into a two-way tie with High River after a 4-3 loss to the Flyers on Friday, the Bisons played with a sense of urgency to regain the South supremacy with back-to-back wins bookended by a 2-1 triumph over the Banff Bears on Sunday.
“These last two games were huge momentum builders. We hate, hate losing to High River, it’s just the worst,” said Bisons forward Christopher Price. “Short memories, that’s really the biggest thing. You can’t let something like that weigh on you for too long.”
Mission accomplished on that front.
The Bisons bounced back immediately with a 7-3 romp over the Mountainview Colts, the number-two ranked team in the Heritage Junior Hockey League’s North Division, on Saturday in Didsbury. Okotoks out-shot the hosts 50-35 and spread out its offence with goals from blueliners Bryce Honish, Matt Howatt, Tyson Arnholtz, newcomer Josh Haley as well as Phil Dillon, Kevan Mikkelsen and Zak Johns.
Playing its third game in less than 72 hours, Okotoks took a different route to its two points in a low-scoring 2-1 win over the Banff Bears in Okotoks.
Haley broke the scoreless deadlock late in the first period when he was given time and space in the slot to lift a wrister past Banff’s Aaron Mackay.
Skating with a pep in their step, the Bisons poured it on with aggressive physical play in the second frame and they were rewarded for their effort. On the powerplay, rookie Luke Loomer skated out from behind the net and tucked the puck underneath the outstretched Banff goalie to double the lead.
“We have a lot more of an experienced team and that was definitely an advantage,” said Price, sporting a nasty gash under his eye from an errant high stick. “We’re older than a lot of the Banff kids so its experience, size, speed, everything.
“You can’t take a team too lightly because they’re not the same team they were last year and neither are we.”
The Bears bit back in the final frame and finally got on the board when they were gifted a six-minute powerplay in the final 10 minutes.
With just 2:20 left on the clock and 50 seconds remaining on the extended man-advantage Russian sniper Oleg Losev broke Alex Bilton’s shutout bid.
“I couldn’t see it, it got tipped in past me. It was unfortunate, but you’ve just got to battle through it and can’t let that faze you when it’s 2-1,” Bilton said. “It’s hard to stay in it when there are no shots really in the second and for most of the third.
“I’m just happy to get the W. I haven’t been playing great lately and it was a big comeback game.”
High River, who were idle for the rest of the weekend following its Friday victory, hold two games in hand on Okotoks and sit four points back.
The Bisons used the schedule to reassert themselves as the top team in the South.
“I knew if we came in today (against Banff) and didn’t win then it would be a pretty disappointing weekend,” Bilton said. “We want to keep ourselves in first place, I think that’s a goal for any team. Having someone on our tail like that and tying us up, especially when we’ve given them 10 points, we had to battle back from that.”
Next up for the Bisons is a trip to Ponoka for a battle with the last place Stampeders on Saturday followed by a Sunday afternoon date with the Stettler Lightning at 1:15 p.m. at the Murray Arena.
The Bisons complete their schedule before the New Year on Dec. 21 when they make the short trip to Cochrane to square off with the Generals.
For more information on the Bisons go to okotoksbisons.com