By Ken Alexander
100 Mile Free Press
With every point in the race to hoist the Doug Birks Division trophy being huge, the 100 Mile House Wranglers were happyto skate out of Revelstoke Forum with four points after a double header with the Grizzles on Jan. 20-21.
The Wranglers mauled the bears 5-2 on Friday and 5-1 on Saturday thanks to some well-rounded scoring and greatgoaltending by Jakob Severson.
Head coach and general manager Dale Hladun says it was a couple of big wins because Revelstoke isn’t an easy rink to playin because it’s loud and intimidating when the seats are filled with a lot of skiers from Australia and New Zealand and thebeer garden “fills half the rink.”
He adds the games were like playoff hockey. The first two periods were end-to-end, hard working and there was a goodpace by both teams, he explains.
“I think the conditioning of our kids and the fact that we have four lines that are deep … we started wearing them down.”
How deep are they?
Team captain Stephen Egan and power forward Nick McCabe didn’t go on the trip because of injuries.
Noting the team had a lot of time to kill before the second game because they had to hang around after checking out oftheir rooms leaving, Hladun says they came out a little sluggish in the first period.
“But because of our conditioning and our depth, we started separating ourselves again. Without Egan and McCabe, it justshows the depth of our team; guys step up and fill those holes.”
Another asset for the team is having the ability to move Austin Turner from defence to forward, which was his naturalposition, the coach says, adding Turner can be a top defensive pairing but he can also be a first-line centre.
“I thought Jake Severson had a strong weekend in both games. He hasn’t played a lot of hockey this year – it’s only hisfourth or fifth game with us, and I think he only played three or four games before he came to us.
“He is just starting to find himself, so if this is how good [he is] now with a limited amount of games, he’s going to bedynamite before playoffs.”
Hladun adds Frazer Dodd, Rob Raju and Riley Coish were an amazing line on the weekend, and they moved the puck aroundnicely.
“Coish’s work ethic was second to nobody and he got a couple of points. Dodd was very creative with the puck and Raju is agood player all around.”
Colton Thomas was dynamic killing penalties and on the power play, the coach says, noting Jaydon Gilding, who joined theteam a week ago, has added to the team leadership that was already strong.
Hladun says Gilding hasn’t had skates on since winning the Western Canada Championship last spring but will be hitting hisstride by the playoffs.
The coach points to Kolby Page as the team’s unsung hero.
“Kolby checks so hard and every shift he creates something. His penalty killing and his shot blocking are so important andit has to be brought to the forefront.
“As much as he isn’t on the scoresheet for points, we would be a whole different team without Kolby in the lineup. Hemakes everyone better around him.”
James Gordon (Sam Bosek) scored at 4:46 of the first period, but the Grizzlies knotted the score at 2:42.
Wrangler Justin Bond (Gilding, Turner) potted the go-ahead power-play goal at 10:15 of the second stanza.
However, Revelstoke tied it up three minutes later.
It was all Wranglers in the third period with Todd Bredo (F. Dodd, Liam Dodd) at 17:14; Raju (Page, Bredo) at 12:27; andGilding (Ryan Friesen) at 11:20.
F. Dodd (Travis Gook) scored at 8:28 of the first.
A minute later, the Grizzlies tied the score, but Thomas (Garrett Hilton) got the game-winning goal on a power-play.
The second period saw a goal from Coish (Raju).
Third-period markers came from Raju (F. Dodd) and Coish unassisted.