Lightning strike down Bisons in shootout
Hockey: Okotoks works overtime for 1-1 weekend
By: Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013 06:00 am
It was going to take something special to settle this Junior B inter-divisional slugfest.
The Stettler Lightning completed a remarkable four-for-four weekend to take over top spot in the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) with a 6-5 shootout victory over the Okotoks Bisons with Wyat Haustein’s first-round marker holding up as the game winner, Sunday afternoon at Murray Arena.
“I was just hoping to not mess up because there was a lot of snow on the ice, to get a good shot off and hopefully it would go in,” said Haustein on his shootout tally. “I came in and did a little fake and shot five-hole.
“We just stuck to our game, banged some bodies, got it into overtime and took the shootout.”
Fresh off a 4-3 win over the surging High River Flyers the night prior, the Lightning rode the momentum with a statement first-period in Okotoks.
Dylan Houston and Derek Muhlbach each tallied on the powerplay in the opening frame, answered by an even-strength marker from Bison Kevan Mikkelsen.
The Bisons came out hitting in the middle stanza and it wasn’t long before they were rewarded for their rambunctious play.
Defenceman Bryce Honish sprung Phil Dillon on a breakaway and after hitting the bar on his initial shot, the Bisons’ leading scorer buried the rebound.
Okotoks earned its first lead of the game on the man-advantage when Dillon stick handled through traffic before feeding a wide open Mikkelsen for a tap-in.
The Bisons nearly doubled their advantage, but Harrison Smith’s deflection of a point-shot was stopped by Lightning goalie Simon Thieleman. Just 30 seconds later the Lightning evened the score, again on the powerplay, when captain Landon Potter was Johnny-on-the-spot for a rebound tally.
Undaunted, Okotoks bounced right back when Dillon’s seeing-eye point shot found a way through Thieleman.
The rollercoaster second period concluded when Stettler’s Adam Ternes continued the dynamic powerplay run with a tap-in to make it a 4-4 game with 44 seconds left in the frame.
Stettler regained the lead early in the third period after killing a penalty as Ternes waltzed in and wired a shot short side on Okotoks’ Alex Bilton.
Stettler kept Okotoks from premium scoring chances and was poised to escape with two points before a rookie Bison made his mark with 4:21 on the clock.
Okotoks winger Jeffrey Garland crashed the net and banged in a loose puck for his first goal as a Bison, forcing the game to overtime.
“I just went to the net and saw that our defence (Tyson Arnholtz) had the puck so I had an open lane,” Garland said.
“I went there to try and get a tip and I just banged it home.”
Overtime, including a two-minute four-on-three powerplay for Okotoks, settled nothing and sent the game to Okotoks’ second shootout of the season.
After Haustein scored on the first-shot, Dillon, Kristian Ayoungman and Mikkelsen failed to get the puck into the Stettler cage to give the Lightning a hard-fought two points.
“We worked hard, we came out hitting,” Garland said. “Unfortunately, they have a good powerplay and we had some big issues with that.”
It was a bounce-back effort for the Bisons following a disappointing effort in Ponoka the previous night. The Bisons narrowly avoided an embarrassing result to the last-place Stampeders, a team without a point all season entering the weekend, by coming back to win 3-2 in overtime.
Captain Michael Savage and Mikkelsen scored in regulation for the visitors, setting the stage for newcomer Keifer Schaufler’s overtime winner in his debut with the Bisons.
“We played the last place team in the standings and we weren’t hitting, the pace was very low,” Garland said. “It was not a good game at all.”
The Bisons (16-6-1) have an opportunity to go into the holidays on a winning note this weekend when they make the short trip north to face the Cochrane Generals on Dec. 21.
Okotoks returns to the ice on Jan. 5 when it welcomes the Medicine Hat Cubs to Murray Arena.
For more information on the Bisons log on to okotoksbisons.com