Bisons add three for late push

Hockey: Okotoks Jr. B's bolster roster with trio of veterans

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 08, 2014 06:00 am

Brandon Lijdsman dives to get in front of a puck during his debut performance with the Okotoks Bisons on Sunday.
Brandon Lijdsman dives to get in front of a puck during his debut performance with the Okotoks Bisons on Sunday.
Remy Greer/OWW

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Word of mouth can be a powerful force in recruiting.

Its at the centre of the Okotoks Jr. B Bisons latest in roster bolstering with blueliners Keifer Schaufler, Brandon Lijdsman and centre Spencer Barlow-Lakusta all joining the team based largely on its sterling reputation.

Lijdsman joins the Bisons after starting the season at the Concordia University College of Alberta in Edmonton, where he played with Bisons graduates Chase Fallis and Jeremy Smith.

Its a championship team here and thats a big reason and its a little closer to home, said Lijdsman, from Calgary, on his decision to join the Bisons. And they (Chase and Jeremy) have been talking nothing but good things about here.

Its a great place to play. The (Bisons organization) care about their team, care about all the guys, theyre very passionate about what they do.

The 20-year-old rearguard is your prototypical stay-at-home defenceman with a considerable mean streak and penchant for open-ice hitting.

Im a big physical guy. I love to hit, I get intense too. Im a very intense player, I care about what I do, he said. I tend to make safe plays coming out the zone, Im very defensive.

His partner on the blueline, Schaufler, brings a similar element as well as a booming right-handed shot from the point.

The DeWinton native, and UFA Midget AAA Bisons alumnus, saw the Bisons as his best fit after a brief stint in Junior A with the Opaskwayak Cree Nation Blizzard in Manitoba and the La Ronge Ice Wolves in Saskatchewan.

Im from around here and Ive watched (the Bisons) a little bit so I thought it was my best option, said Schaufler, 18. I just want to play as much as I can and hopefully win a championship because they have a couple years in a row here.

Barlow-Lakusta jumped on board the Bisons train after some successful recruiting from first-year forward Josh Haley, friends from their days playing together in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League with Columbia Valley.

The 19-year-old pivot said joining a team late in the season requires careful observation.

You just have to feed off the team and read off them. The guys in there are a great group of guys, he said. Theyve welcomed me with open arms and supported me.

Barlow-Lakusta will likely be doing some supporting of his own as a fleet-footed forward not afraid to throw around his five-foot-eight, 154-pound frame.

I definitely want to help the team get a championship again, he said. Personal goals, I want to try to get a point-per-game or maybe get over that and just help my teammates out as much as I can.

All three additions should render the Bisons a much tougher out in the postseason.

(Schaufler) hes a big body on the d-corps, hes got a big shot from the point and hell be playing lots this year and well see what he can do, said Bisons assistant general manager Zach Baba. (Lijdsman) has got that presence weve been looking for all year, a little grit and not only that he can play, he can shoot, hes smart. Weve got the whole package with him so its nice to have.

Were looking a lot better than we were.

Deadline looms

The Bisons brass will have some weighty decisions this week in advance of the roster cut down deadline on Jan. 10.

Due to the recent addition of Barlow-Lakusta, Schaufler and Lijdsman theres a surplus of two extra skaters on the roster, meaning two players will need to be cut by Friday.

Weve got to look at what we think is going to help us in the long run, Baba said. So whoever is gone, is gone.

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