Disciplined Bisons finally clip Flyers wings
Hockey: Okotoks avoids season series sweep with 5-2 road win
Wednesday, Jul 02, 2014 06:00 am
The Okotoks Jr. B Bisons turned it up to 11 in the biggest grudge match of the season.
Behind a tenacious fore-check and dogged determination, Okotoks finally solved the High River Flyers’ riddle by ousting their Southern Division foes for the first time in six meetings by a 5-2 score Friday night in High River.
“For the first time in a long time we played a complete game, where we went from the beginning to the end and didn’t have any big falters,” said Bisons head coach Mike Hannigan. “I was quite impressed. We need to start peaking at this time of year.”
The Bisons took it to the hosts off the opening puck-drop and were unlucky not to open the scoring 61 seconds in when Phil Dillon’s near open-net opportunity ringed off the crossbar.
Midway through the frame on the powerplay, Dillon was stymied on another golden chance, but this time collected the rebound behind the net and fed a wide-open Josh Haley for the priceless ice-breaking tally.
“That was huge. The last few times we’ve played them they seem to get two or three, not great goals to be honest, and that sets us back on our heels,” Hannigan said. “That was a real big goal and I think we could have had a couple before we scored, too.”
Okotoks doubled the advantage early in the second stanza through its temporary captain.
On a two-on-one chance, Brooker Pretty Youngman looked off Flyers netminder Tyler Fornwald and served up a tasty dish for linemate Mark McLeod, wearing the C with captain Michael Savage out injured, to cradle into the net.
“It was an extreme honour to be chosen by the coaching staff … it shows lots of confidence in me being even though I’m a younger player on the team,” said McLeod, a freshman forward from Okotoks, on the captaincy. “The High River games you always get jacked up for them and this added a little more to it.”
The visitors were rolling for the much of the middle frame and soon saw their lead increase to four. Darren Bordt went to the net and smashed in a rebound past an outstretched Fornwald and two minutes later Haley popped in his second of the game.
High River, owning the 5-0 season series advantage, stopped the bleeding before the intermission when league-leading sniper Alex Pronchuk’s wrist shot from the corner beat Okotoks’ Brayden Engel.
There would no ferocious comeback in the final 20.
Bison Kevan Mikkelsen, who was buzzing all evening, put in his team-leading 27th goal when he was first to the puck on a scrambled draw before the two-minute mark.
High River found some late consolation through Kade Bleackley on a four-on-three advantage, but that was all she wrote in round six of the foothills derby.
Haley, a revelation since joining the Bisons herd with 11 goals and 20 points in 14 games, attributed Okotoks’ breakthrough performance over the Flyers to patience.
“They throw out a lot of hard, hard hits and systems frustrate them because they don’t know what a system is,” Haley said. “We talked about it early in the game, one of the keys to get under their skin.
“When you have a team that’s three goals down they’re going to be frustrated.”
The three-goal victory ensured the Bisons closed the regular season with at least one win over every team in the Heritage Junior Hockey League and snapped the Flyers’ five-game dominance over their neighbours to the north.
“It shows us that we can beat them,” Hannigan said. “And maybe there isn’t a jinx there.”