Chip away at something long enough and you’ll break through sooner or later.
It took a while, but the Okotoks Bisons were finally able to put some pucks past Stettler Lightning goalie Indiana Kelly en route to a 5-2 victory at the Murray Arena on Sunday.
“He played fantastic, he’s a good goalie,” said Bisons coach Chris Beston. “He made all the first stops. We knew after the first period, if we wanted to beat this guy we had to get second or third opportunities.”
The victory put the Bisons solidly in first place in the South Division of the Heritage Junior B Hockey League with an 8-0 record.
Okotoks applied more pressure in the first period on Stettler than a political canvasser one week before the election, but it was to no avail as the Lightning struck first to take a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes — despite Okotoks out shooting Stettler 17-7.
It was the Bisons’ top scorer, Tyler Witzke who finally beat Kelly with a powerplay goal assisted by Tyler Alger and Kale Hawryluk with six minutes left in the period.
“We made a few couple of line adjustments to see if they could spark us and away they went,” Beston said
The coach moved Tyson Scott to wing to play with Alger and Witzke.
We really played well tonight,” said Witzke, who had four points in the game.
However he stressed it was the team that pulled through, not just one line.
“It was a frustrating start, but we have so many skill guys and we have a positive attitude,” said Witzke, who has a team high 19 points (7G, 12A).
“We know that any given night we can score five or six goals.
“Going into the second period, even though we hadn’t scored yet, we had a lot of confidence.“
The Bisons took the lead for good just a minute and a half later when Scott scored on the backhand after a tic-tac-toe passing play from Witzke and Alger.
Okotoks upped its lead to 3-1 when defenceman Michael Bentz beat Kelly with Witzke and Scott assisting five minutes into the third period.
Okotoks would put the game away when Scott added his team high eighth goal of the year and Brennan Schwark scored to make it 5-1.
Stettler would get a goal from Brendan Tucker with 10 seconds left to make the final 5-2.
Bisons goalie Devin Reagan was rock steady in turning away 21 of 23 shots. Kelly faced 62 shots in the loss.
It was like a summer storm for the Bisons on the weekend — first the thunder then the lightning.
The Thanksgiving festivities got off to a good start with an 8-1 win over the Airdrie Thunder Friday in Airdrie.
“That was a great game from the start,” Witzke said. “It got a little chippy near the end, we held our own didn’t take any stupid penalties and just rode the game home after that.”
The Bisons jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the first 20 minutes on goals from five different players.
Witzke, Scott, Evan Woods, Josh Niwa and Alger got the puck by Thunder goalie Jacob Fedoruk in the opening stanza.
Ryan Bedard would score later in the game and Woods and Alger would pot their second of the festivities for the 8-1 route.
“Airdrie has some injuries but we played a dominate game – a good 60-minute, 200-foot hockey game,” Beston said. “It was one of our best efforts of the year.”
He was thankful for how the team was playing for the past eight games.
“You can’t ask for a better start,” Beston said. “We’re undefeated, but we have to do some little things to get the whole boat going in the right direction.”
The Bisons are on the road this weekend with in Sylvan Lake and in Cochrane this weekend.
* A wrong date was given for previous game