Weekend grease gets Bisons first sweep
Hockey: Okotoks goes back-to-back for first time in 4-3 win over Airdrie
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017 06:00 am
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason.
Tackling a schedule which saw the Okotoks Jr. B Bisons take to the ice in Red Deer and back at the Murray Arena less than 14 hours later to take the maximum four points required some good old-fashioned home cooking.
“I think it was that big Bisons breakfast, everyone showed up and had a team breakfast,” said Bisons forward Kody Briggs. “You have a good breakfast, you’re good to go, couple sausages, bacon, some eggs, some toast.”
Some grease on the ice helped matters.
Briggs, who exemplifies hard-nosed hockey better than most, was named the team’s first star in picking up his first goal and assist as a Bison in the 4-3 overtime victory Sunday over the Airdrie Thunder.
The Longview native opened the scoring in a first period dominated by the visitors with captain Clay Murray doing the heavy lifting with a pair of markers to give Airdrie a 3-1 advantage.
Okotoks put on the work boots in the middle frame and chipped away.
First, Robbie McLean cut the lead in half 25 seconds into the period on the powerplay.
Then Briggs went beast-mode late in the period, outworking three Thunder defenders to the puck before sliding it over to linemate Kyle Dunville for a tap-in.
“It’s down to hard work,” Briggs said. “Dunny was in the right spot and it’s easy to get a goal when you can dish it right to a guy standing right in front for an open net.
“That second period we came back in, got on them hard, they don’t like to get hit and playing the body on them helps.”
Following a scoreless third period the teams settled the score in overtime.
Defenceman Taylor McNeill hit forward Kyle Harrison with a sublime stretch pass and the second-year centre made no mistake on the clear-cut breakaway to sew up the comeback victory.
“With overtime hockey it’s really man-on-man,” said Harrison. “I saw they were caught down low and (McNeill) was skating up so I stretched and sure enough he made a beautiful pass tape-to-tape and I had enough time to look up and see where I wanted to put it.”
Overtime hockey wasn’t in the cards in the early portion of the inter-divisional contest.
The path to the comeback was paved with five-on-five intentions along with a 37 save effort from Devin Reagan.
“We know these guys are a pretty skilled team, hard on pucks and they have some guys who can put it in the back of the net when you make mistakes right from the get go,” Harrison said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of that.
“The biggest thing with us right now is discipline. We’re trying to keep it five-on-five and not kill half the game. Five-on-five I think we’re the best team in the league and can beat anybody.”
Okotoks opened the weekend with a 4-3 triumph on the road versus the Red Deer Vipers.
McNeill, McLean, Josh McCulloch and Bradley Whitehead provided the offence for the visitors.
Reagan was the first, second and third star in stopping 49 shots. The first-year Bison is a perfect 5-0 on the season while posting a ridiculous .952 save percentage.
“The last 48 hours with a short sleep in between he was stellar. He definitely kept us in it,” Harrison said. “We owe it big to him and I think he knows that.”
The consecutive wins on the same weekend is a first this season for the Bisons.
Okotoks (5-2) looks to extend its run this weekend with a pair of divisional dates on the docket.
The Strathmore Wheatland Kings visit the Murray Arena on Oct. 20 at 8 p.m. followed by the first Battle of the Foothills of the season when the High River Flyers hit Okotoks for a 1:15 p.m. face-off on Oct. 22.
For more information go to okotoksbisons.com