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Helena Bighorns move through playoffs with help from new face

Posted at 11:04 PM, Mar 20, 2019

HELENA — The Helena Bighorns are in the dead heat of the playoffs, with two more win’s they’ll secure a spot in the 2019 Fraser Cup playoffs, something this team has never done under head coach Bob Richards. Though the Bighorns jumped out to a stellar start winning 19 of their first 20 games, they made a late season trade to acquire Ian Zaleski from the Willmar WarHawks, and Zaleski had no trouble fitting in.

“The guy can skate,” said Richards. “When you can skate, shoot well and stick handle well, you can fit in a lot of places.”

Bighorns forwards Darren Donovan and Elliot Plourde have meshed well this season, finishing with 74 total goals between the two, but Donovan said Zaleski’s addition to the team was seamless.

“[Donovan and Plourde] always worked really well together and having [Zaleski] come in and be a piece of that puzzle, fit in as best as it could,” said Donovan. “We know where we’re at on the ice and he fit in so naturally and we’ve been doing really well, so hopefully it keeps on going.”

In Zaleski’s 12 games with Helena, he’s added 8 goals and 7 assists and knows he can’t take all of the credit for his success.

“Our mental preparation was pretty big,” said Zaleski. “We work pretty well together.”

The Helena Bighorns and the Great Falls Americans will strap on the skates for a best-of-three playoff series that starts Mar. 21 at 7:05 p.m. in Helena.