Hard Work Pays Off for Bighorns on Opening Weekend

It wasn’t perfect performances or highlight reel plays but hard work and a continuous effort that paid off for the defending NOR PAC League Champion Helena Bighorns on opening weekend 

The Bighorns opened the 2009-2010 season, and their bid to defend their back-to-back league championships, with a 5-2 win over the Billings Bulls on Friday night at Helena Ice Arena. The game started off with lots of intensity from both sides but not a lot of cohesive play. In the first period where the Bighorns outhit the Bulls 19-10 the shots were only 12-6, also in favor of the home team. The only offense in the period game from Bighorns’ forward Rudy Pino on one of the few effective passing plays of the entire game.  

The second period would see more offense but unfortunately it would mostly be from the Bulls. They would tally 2 powerplay goals before one of Helena’s defenseman, Kevin Clark, could respond with the game tying goal. As the game progressed the quality of play rose slightly from both teams but the biggest difference on the ice seemed to be the overall conditioning and work ethic that the Bighorns were exhibiting. 

The Bighorns would outshoot the Bulls 13 to 7 in the final stanza but the more important than that was the fact that most of those shots were turned into quality scoring chances. Of those 13 chances the Bighorns would make good on 3 of them to take the decisive win in an overall exciting yet sloppy season opener.  

Scoring- 

1st Period

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      Helena Bighorns at 9:24 – Rudi Pino from Adam Johnson and Taylor Laneville

2nd Period

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      Billings Bulls at 2:58 (PP) – Paul Hoffman from Trevor Leonard

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      Billings Bulls at 13:06 (PP) – Dan Sheehan from Dan Turgeon

      Helena Bighorns at 14:29 – Kevin Clark (unassisted)

3rd Period

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      Helena Bighorns at 1:07 – Laneville from Arram Chinarian and Pino

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      Helena Bighorns at 16:34 – Tyler McGreevy from Desi Ritari and Cody Hess

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      Helena Bighorns at 18:38 – Laneville from Alec Burks and Clark

*Other notables* Ryan Sutliffe turned away 16 shots in the Helena nets. 

In game two of opening weekend in Helena the Bighorns took on the Bozeman Ice Dogs. This game was sure to have some attitude as it was the first meeting since the Bighorns knocked the Ice Dogs out of playoffs for the third consecutive year.

The first period would see lots of physical play and only a little bit of offense as the Bighorns outhit their opponent 30-25 and outscored them 1-0. The lone goal in the period came off the stick of Helena local Michael Sullivan as the Bighorns would strike first blood for the second time in the weekend.  

The second period would be turn out to be the most exciting for the Helena crowd. They would watch their team outshoot the Ice Dogs 15-7 while scoring three more goals, to go up 4-0, and they would see the first fight of the season as Helena’s rookie defenseman Arram Chinarian pleased the crowd by getting the better of Chris Warner from Bozeman.  

Play seemed to even back out a bit in the third period as the teams tallied a combined 22 shots, with the Bighorns taking the slight advantage. Bozeman would finally get on the board twice during the final frame while Helena would add one more to their totals to close the game with another 5-2 win. In a game that saw a total of 57 shots, 7 goals, 10 roughing penalties and a fight, there wasn’t anybody leaving with doubts about the rivalry between these teams continuing this season. 

Scoring- 

1st Period

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      Helena Bighorns at 17:34 – Michael Sullivan from Zach Maxwell and Tyler McGreevy

2nd Period

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      Helena Bighorns at 7:24 (SH) – Matt Oberling from Ryan Sutliffe

      Helena Bighorns at 8:26 – Adam Johnson from Rudi Pino and Nolan Grauer

      Helena Bighorns at 18:21 – Sullivan from Taylor Laneville and Patrick Love

3rd Period

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      Bozeman Ice Dogs at 4:40 (PP) – Dustin Simmons (unassisted)

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      Helena Bighorns at 10:07 – Laneville from Alec Burks and Nolan Grauer

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      Bozeman Ice Dogs at 17:07 – Joe King from Tanner Stansbury

*Other notables* Ryan Sutliffe turned away 21 shots in the Helena nets for his second consecutive win. 

The next Bighorns action will take place this weekend when they travel to Bozeman Friday night to take on the Ice Dogs and then back in Helena again Saturday night when to take on the Billings Bulls. Both game times start at 7:30pm.