Bisons find defensive edge in weekend split


Conventional hockey wisdom states a five-hundred record on a road trip is considered a win.

When the strength of schedule is taken into account a weekend split versus the best in the Northern Division capped off by a 44-save shutout, the Okotoks Junior B Bisons will take that every day of the week.

“You always want to win them all, but at the end of the day the league has gotten better,” said Bisons general manager Brent Trevors. “Ultimately there is not a lot of easy games out there anymore. You have to be at your best, especially when you’re out on the road, you’re going to have to get out and play a good game to get out of there with a W most times.”

The herd was at its best since the opening night of the season in shutting out the high-octane Blackfalds Wranglers 4-0 on Sunday.

Nicholas Murrell scored twice, once on the powerplay, captain Josh McCulloch added an even-strength marker and newcomer Joel Deeprose notched his first goal in three games with the squad to round out the scoring.

Devin Reagan made 44 saves for his second shutout and Heritage Junior Hockey League leading 12th win of the campaign.

“We’ve really shored up our D in the last month, as a unit they’re getting good,” Trevors said. “We’re getting a little smarter in our own end and hence the goals against.

“For the most part, we controlled the game and I thought we were the better team all night.”

Deeprose, a product of the Calgary Buffaloes AA program, has been a big addition to the back-end in both a literal and figurative sense.

“He’s 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, he brings us size, he can skate,” Trevors said. “He really helps to shore things up. I really like that pick up, that gives us now six quality defencemen.”

Okotoks opened the weekend in a 3-1 loss to the North Division leading Airdrie Thunder on Friday.

Rylan Plante-Crough led the hosts with two goals while McCulloch struck for the visitors.

Reagan was busy again in making 46 saves.

“We weren’t shooting the puck and we have to get out of the mindset that everything has to be perfect,” the GM added. “We’ve got to get pucks to the net and go get some ugly ones.”

The Bisons (14-6-2) are three points up on the surging High River Flyers in the competitive Southern Division while the Coaldale Copperheads and Cochrane Generals are in striking distance, five points back of the herd with a game in hand.

“I still think we can play better,” Trevors said. “We’ve got a pretty good group. Everyone is trying to find their role here right now and how they can contribute to the team.”

Okotoks returns home from a three week hiatus on Dec. 10 when it hosts the basement-dwelling Medicine Hat Cubs.

Puck-drop is 1:15 p.m. at the Murray Arena.

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