Bisons take bite out of Copperheads

Hockey: Double-OT goal wraps up four-game sweep

By: Remy Greer

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 02:13 pm

Okotoks Bison Kevan Mikkelsen celebrates a goal against the Coaldale Copperheads during Okotoks’ 7-1 win in Game 3 of their playoff series on Feb. 28. Mikkelsen scored the double-overtime game winner in the Bisons’ series clinching 4-3 victory in Coaldale on Saturday night.
Okotoks Bison Kevan Mikkelsen celebrates a goal against the Coaldale Copperheads during Okotoks’ 7-1 win in Game 3 of their playoff series on Feb. 28. Mikkelsen scored the double-overtime game winner in the Bisons’ series clinching 4-3 victory in Coaldale on Saturday night.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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The Okotoks Bisons escaped the Snake Pit without getting bitten.

Kevan Mikkelsen’s double-overtime snipe lifted the Jr. B Bisons to a comeback 4-3 win Saturday night in Coaldale to lock up the four-game sweep of the Copperheads and move on to the Heritage Junior Hockey League South finals.

“They were trying to clear it and fumbled the puck a bit and I was able to get my stick on it, get around a guy and turn and fire it on net and it went top-corner,” said Mikkelsen. “The bench cleared, I came around the net with my arms up and the boys came out and everybody was real happy.

“The relief of winning was unreal.”

Closing out the series in the minimum of four games didn’t appear to be in the cards for the Bisons as Coaldale scored three in the second period through Clayton Tilleman, Alex Barthel and Craig Lyon to build a 3-1 advantage on the visitors. Phil Dillon cut the lead in half with a man-advantage goal for the Bisons, putting the comeback within reach heading into the second intermission.

The Bisons poured it on in the final stanza and were finally rewarded. With the goalie pulled and the extra-attacker on, Okotoks forced overtime on a Josh Haley tally with a mere 66 seconds on the clock.

“With us being down so late that was stressful,” Mikkelsen said. “The flood between the first and second OT was nice to get your legs back and recoup and get our heads back in it for the second OT, but we were pretty exhausted.

“Just to get it done was a huge relief to get that first-round out of the way and keep on going.”

Okotoks’ third victory of the series was considerably less stressful.

The Bisons took Game 3 on home-ice on Friday by a 7-1 score after scoring five-answered to close out the rough-and-tumble contest.

Matt Howatt opened the scoring moments after-puck drop, followed shortly thereafter by a Mikkelsen tally before Coaldale’s Lyon got one back for the ‘Snakes. Okotoks’ Bryce Honish restored the two-goal advantage by beating Copperheads goaltender Adam Weersink and the first-period buzzer.

“It’s a 2-1 game and that’s a scary lead,” said Bisons forward Dylan Boyd. “That little bit of insurance going in deflated them a little bit. That was definitely a big (third) goal by the team.”

Zak Johns’ second of the playoffs was the only scoring of the middle frame, setting the stage for the Bisons’ three-goal onslaught in the third period.

Howatt would add his second of the game when his point-shot trickled through Weersink, Mikkelsen joined the two-goal club with a breakaway tally before Boyd put the finishing touches on the six-goal win with an odd-man rush marker set-up from linemate Darren Bordt for his first of the series.

Special teams were at the forefront of the Okotoks win. The Bisons were nine-for-10 in shorthanded situations and would finish an impressive three-for-four on the powerplay.

“Once we get in and get moving around usually we can get our tape-to-tape passes going and get them moving,” said Howatt on the powerplay efficiency. “And then just have a guy open and have a nice tap-in goal.”

The Bisons took Game 2 of the series by a 5-3 count, Wednesday in Coaldale.

“Discipline was key. We learned that from our run last year that we’ve got to keep our emotions in tact so that was a big thing,” said Boyd, a second-year Bison. “We’ve got a lot of experience. It’s playoff hockey and everyone is stepping up.”

Foothills battle

The Bisons square off with the High River Flyers, who dispatched the number-two seed Banff Bears, in the South finals this week.

Game 1 is Friday night, 8 p.m. at Murray Arena in Okotoks. The rest of the series schedule was not available at press-time.

Check heritagejunior.com for the latest schedule information.

rgreer@okotoks.greatwest.ca


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