Bighorns get burst in third

By MARK VINSON Independent Record | Posted: Saturday, February 6, 2010 12:20 am

Maybe this scoring role isn’t so hard for Taylor Laneville to get used after all.

Often overshadowed by teammates Rudy Pino and Adam Johnson, Laneville turned in his second two-goal performance in the last four games, including the game-winner, as the Helena Bighorns broke open a tie game with four third-period goals and beat the Bozeman Icedogs 7-3 in a NorPac game at the Helena Ice Arena on Friday night.

“We came to play in that third period and did what we needed to do,” said Laneville, who also had two assists as Helena (37-4, 74 points) extended its win streak to four games and officially clinched the America West Division title.

Laneville and the Bighorns wasted little time in breaking open a 3-3 game at the start of the third period. With Kellen Tollefson in the penalty box, Laneville won a faceoff in the Icedogs’ zone back to defenseman Chad James. James fired a hard shot that Bozeman goalie Andrew Alberta was able to stop but not control, and Laneville was left all alone on the left side of the net to poke the puck home for a 4-3 lead.

“It’s a set play for the entire game,” said Laneville, whose 14 goals and 43 points this season are more than any Bozeman player, but rank just ninth on the Bighorns. “Just go to the net hard.”

Bozeman (15-28, 30 points), which trails Billings by eight points for the final playoff spot, lost its 12th straight to Helena. The Icedogs got a great start on a goal from Alex Goplen just 18 seconds into the game against Nic Wackerly and led on three separate occasions. But the Bighorns responded each time.

“They’re relentless on the puck and they hit you at every turn,” Bozeman coach Kevin Stone said. “And they put everything on the net.”

Helena outshot Bozeman 20-2 in the third period and 46-14 for the game.

Bozeman stayed even through 40 minutes thanks to Goplen’s first career hat trick and eight minor penalties called against the Bighorns. But Bozeman could convert just one of its 10 power plays for the game against Helena’s league-best penalty kill.

“There wasn’t much to say,” Laneville said of the atmosphere in the dressing room. “It was really on us to fire ourselves up.”

John Celli, a new acquisition from a junior team in Massachusetts, scored his first goal as a Bighorn to increase the lead to 5-3.

Laneville made it 6-3 on a pretty move, coming from behind the Bozeman net and flipping a backhand by Alberta. Alec Burks closed the scoring off assists from Jack Kippen and Tommy Lee, two of three former Icedogs who have joined the Bighorns in the past three weeks. Lee joined the team Friday in a trade for Tyler Sybil and AJ Chute.

 “It was a little weird,” Lee admitted. “They’re all my buddies over there, but I had to focus and do my job.”

Lee and Celli are the seventh and eighth newcomers to the team since Christmas.

“That’s a lot to do with the veterans on this team,” Helena head coach Scott Cunningham said. “It’s real easy to bring other people and make the guys feel welcome.”

Zack Maxwell had a goal and an assist, Johnson and Nolan Grauer also scored. Rudy Pino had a pair of assists to extend his point streak to 10 games (8 G, 10 A).

Ryan Sutliffe figures to get the start in goal today when the Bighorns head to Cody, Wyo., for a pair of games against Yellowstone.

“Our whole goal is to get better,” Cunningham said.