Bisons rattle Copperheads in playoff opener
Hockey: Okotoks takes 1-0 series lead on 6-1 blowout
Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014 06:00 am
Game 3: Coaldale at Okotoks (Feb. 28,
Game 4: Okotoks at Coaldale (March 1)
*Game 5: Coaldale at Okotoks (March 2,
*Game 6: Okotoks at Coaldale (March 3)
*Game 7: Coaldale at Okotoks (March 5,
The Okotoks Jr. B Bisons had no issues raising their intensity to playoff heights in their post-season curtain raiser.
Okotoks took advantage of a fatigued Coaldale Copperheads squad to open the second-round Heritage Junior Hockey League series with a 6-1 romp, Sunday at Murray Arena.
“It was good to see the boys play good playoff hockey our first game in,” said Bisons alternate captain Kevan Mikkelsen. “We were a little worried that they would have momentum coming out of the first series, but we were able to control and get-er-done.”
Coaldale, who advanced to the second-round by beating Medicine Hat in the survivor series in three games, wouldn’t get a chance to parlay momentum from series to series.
Luke Loomer marshalled the offensive parade by opening the playoff scoring for the Bisons on a juicy rebound off a point shot late in the opening frame. Okotoks doubled its advantage before the end of the period when defenceman Matt Howatt’s slapshot from the blueline found a hole in Copperhead’s goalie Adam Weersink.
The Bisons took the bull by the horns early in the middle stanza when speedster Mikkelsen took advantage of the open ice during four-on-four to win a puck race and pull off a great backhand deke on a partial breakaway.
“I noticed their other d-men was there and figured I could beat him to the puck, so I beat him to the puck and made a little move,” said Mikkelsen, Okotoks’ top sniper with 33 goals in the regular season. “The goalie was so far out I was able to get it by him.”
The Chestermere native would make it a four-goal game minutes later on a five-on-three powerplay off a terrific backdoor feed from Okotoks’ Zak Johns, followed by a rebound tally from Bisons rookie Brooker Pretty Youngman on the next shift.
Coaldale’s Clayton Tilleman would break Alex Bilton’s shutout bid early in the third period when he showed great hand-eye coordination to bat the puck out of mid-air and past the outstretched Bisons netminder.
The Copperheads would spend much of the remainder of the game killing penalties and if not for some dynamite goaltending from Weersink it would have been a much uglier result for the visitors. The dam eventually broke with 1:36 on the clock when pesky Bison Dylan Boyd’s wrist shot trickled through the wickets to restore the five-goal advantage and cap off the dominant 6-1 win.
“This last week we really focused on what we had to accomplish and we seemed to be ready to play today,” said Bisons head coach Mike Hannigan. “We tried to get pucks behind their D, hit them a little bit and get them bogged down.
“I thought all four lines and seven D were all going tonight, were all contributing which is important for our team.”
The Copperhead road to the second-round was a bumpy ride.
Coaldale got past the rival Medicine Hat Cubs late on Saturday 5-2 to win the best-of-three opening round series in three games. The previous two contests went to overtime, leading to a spent bunch come Sunday afternoon.
“We didn’t get off the ice until 11:15 last night and it’s just tough with four games in four nights,” said Coaldale head coach Cody Moskal. “The score didn’t show it, but I’m really happy with the effort.
“In the second we ran into penalty troubles and it kind of went their way after that.”