On a night Okotoks lights up for the holidays, fireworks also played out on the ice.
Avery Greig scored in the eighth round of a shootout to lift the Carstar Okotoks Bisons (14-1-0) past the Medicine Hat Cubs (12-2-2) by a 2-1 count Friday night at the Murray Arena to give the home team its tenth straight win in the Heritage Junior Hockey League.
“To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting to get the call,” said Greig, who tucked it five-hole on a backhand to forehand deke. “But I was watching the shootout and everyone else that scored went the other way so I thought if I faked it one way and went back the other, I would probably have a chance to score.”
Easton Dean and Adam Kirkpatrick also scored in the shootout with netminder Grady Nicholas standing tall in stopping six of eight Cubs attempts.
“It’s a little more about who’s playing well that night and we have a good sense from practice whose got soft hands around the net,” said Bisons head coach Brad Cobb, on how the team selects its shooters. “We try to go that route and try to reward some guys that have been playing well at the same time.”
The Cubs forced overtime on a Caleb Garrecht powerplay tally with 6:36 left in regulation after Bisons winger Scott Brown broke the goalless deadlock on a wicked wrist shot in the middle stanza.
“We faced some adversity in the first period there, it wasn’t really going our way,” Greig said. “But we know if we kept moving our boots, kept to it throughout the game that we’re a good enough hockey team where we can push through and win games.
“It’s huge that we get that separation from them.”
Okotoks sits two points up on Med Hat with a game in hand.
For Cobb, his club might have got away with one on Friday.
“I wasn’t happy at all, it shouldn’t have gone to a shootout,” he said. “We just didn’t have much energy, I don’t know if it was coming off the weekend before and just having the one game, we didn’t have a very good practice yesterday and missed practice on Tuesday so I think that had a lot to do with it.
“We were lucky to win tonight.”
Each point is especially crucial in the Southern Division where the top four teams, Okotoks, Medicine Hat, Cochrane and Coaldale, all have 11 wins or more and were separated by just three points entering the weekend. Every team in the South sits at or above the .500 mark where the clear balance of power lies in the 13-team league.
“You want to try and create some separation through the month of November and going into December and the new year,” Cobb added. “The South is a really tough division this year so every point counts and we’re lucky we got one tonight.”
Okotoks continues the weekend Saturday night in Red Deer as they look to take a bite out of the Vipers.
The Bisons are next at home on Nov. 25 for the next iteration of the Battle of the Foothills versus the High River Flyers.
For more information go to okotoksbisons.com.