The Heritage Junior Hockey League’s top of the table clash was a decidedly one-sided affair.
The Carstar Okotoks Bisons (33-3-0) corralled the Sylvan Lake Wranglers (30-3-2) by a 6-1 score on Feb. 10 at the Murray Arena, snapping the North Division top contender’s 17-game win streak to inch closer to clinching first overall.
“It’s huge, being up in first place in the league and we come up with a game like that where we outwork them the whole game,” said Bisons captain Lucas Watkins. “It shows the rest of the league what we really are, if they didn’t already know.”
After the teams traded goals in the opening frame, Okotoks took over in the final 40 minutes with Easton Dean scoring twice along with Scott Brown and Seamus Garagan lighting the lamp. Brayden Kapty notched the earlier marker for the hosts, who outshot the Wranglers 37-23.
“They’ve got some skilled players and they’re definitely a fast team so we knew they were going to come and it wasn’t going to be easy,” Watkins added. “We just had to stick to our gameplan, we moved our feet well and moved pucks which was key tonight.”
The Wranglers had not lost in regulation for 27 games entering the contest, a streak that dates back to mid-October.
Okotoks won the previous matchup early in the season via the shootout.
“It’s a big part of our game to shut down other team’s confidence,” Dean said. “It’s big to get big leads like that especially against a good team like that. It ruins their confidence as a team and there’s not much hope for them now.”
The Bisons opened the weekend with a tight 2-1 victory on the road over Medicine Hat with Jady Shigehiro breaking the deadlock in the third period and Logan Maroni making 27 saves for his second win.
Okotoks, which will have a first round bye in the postseason, wraps up regular season action next weekend with a Feb. 16 home date versus Cochrane followed by the finale the following night in Three Hills.
Two points from its final two games is the magic number for Okotoks to ensure first overall with the Bisons holding the tiebreaker advantage over the Wranglers.
“It’s something our group looks forward to,” Dean said. “That’s our biggest goal at the start of the year and we’ve just got to close out the rest of the year and get it done.
“I think today really showed that we’re the best team in this league.”
For more information on the team go to okotoksbisons.com.