Bisons bully Cubs to close home sked
Hockey: First place Okotoks wraps up final week before break on the road
Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017 06:00 am
A mismatch on paper proved to be so on the ice.
The first-place Okotoks Junior B Bisons closed their pre-holiday home schedule in fine form in chasing the bottom-seed Medicine Hat Cubs 6-1 in the Heritage Junior Hockey League Southern Division clash Sunday at the Murray Arena.
“With us it’s all about keeping the game simple,” said Bisons forward Dallas Otto. “Getting pucks deep, being physical, getting shots on net. We will do that with any team and if we play our game we will beat anybody in this league.
“One of our things is trying to be the toughest team to play against in the HJ, making sure people don’t want to come and play in our rink and making them pay a price.”
Otto, playing on a line with the Bisons Bash Brothers Robbie and Ryan McLean, got the physical intensity going right out of the gate in a combative opening frame.
Defenceman Taylor McNeill opened the scoring on a rough and tumble shift, joining the rush and redirecting centre Jharin Bantugan’s shot into the twine. Early in the middle stanza Kyle Harrison doubled the lead, banking in his own rebound, blueliner Brennan Fuoco wired one in from the point on the powerplay and fellow defenceman Ben Shushkovsky saw his seeing-eye point shot get past Cubs 6-foot-6 netminder Josh Breznik.
In the final stanza, Medicine Hat’s Josh Schaefer broke Devin Reagan’s bid for a goose egg on the rush followed by insurance tallies by Okotoks’ McNeill and Josh Russo, placing the divisional contest firmly out of reach.
Reagan made 32 saves, finishing under 15 minutes shy of consecutive shutouts.
“Everyone did their job out there,” Shushkovsky said. “Devin made some big stops and guys were scoring who usually don’t score and the big guys stepped up here.”
Reagan, a late addition to the team in the pre-season, has been nothing short of a rock star in between the pipes with a league leading 13 wins on the campaign to go along with a Southern Division best .928 save percentage
“He’s huge back there, he’s a big factor on this team,” Shushkovsky said. “We can let an odd puck through because we know he’s back there, he’ll save it and do his job every single time. Not only that he moves the puck really well up the ice and makes our jobs a lot easier.
“It was a big pick-up when we got him here, me and Cully (captain Josh McCulloch) are buddies with him and told him to come in and try out. He played in Wetaskiwin last year and they won the league there. Hopefully we can repeat here.”
The Bisons close the pre-holiday schedule with consecutive road dates in Cochrane and High River on Dec. 15-16.
The latter is the fourth battle of the Foothills of the season and first since the Flyers edged Okotoks in a shootout.
“Just keep playing our game, it has been working for us when we actually do it,” Otto added.
“When we pay the price and make other teams pay when they come into our barn or play against them, that’s what works for us. We keep doing that and we will come out with two wins.”