100 Mile House Wranglers head coach and general manager Dale Hladun was bang on the money with last week’s prediction about his squad’s game at home against the North Okanagan Knights, which the Wranglers won 3-1 on Nov. 19.
Hladun noted the Knights were a good young team, which is well coached, and great forecheckers who will skate miles for a full 60 minutes.
He said the Knights were close to .500 in a tough division, “and we knew we would have our hands full.
Every time we play them, the game is tight until right near the end of the game, he add.
“That’s what we told the kids between period – just stay the course. We’re playing well; we’ll just keep rolling four lines; they can’t keep the case up forever against all of the talent we’re rolling.
“Sure enough, late in the game, [momentum] just started to shift our way.
“Every game is 60 minutes and we talk about that all the time and giving ourselves a chance to win. We preach that not only in the game but all in the series [against other teams] and in the season.
“We’re not going to win every game this, but we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win the game, the round or the series.”
Hladun noted stalwart defenceman Austin Turner played his first game as a forward and “fit in really good up front.
Garrett Hilton had a good game (two goals including the winner), Hladun said, adding a lot of guys had good games.
“[Stephen] Egan, [Kolby] Page and [riley] Coish never get enough pats on the back because they’re not the guys who score the goals. But they’re the guys who kill every penalty; they’re the men and do a man’s job.
“As much success we have on the game sheet, our penalty killers are as important if not more important as some of the goal scorers.”
Hladun says he was happy with goalie Brendan Henderson’s play; “he’s back on the horse and doing well.”
The coach also praised Todd Bredo for his leadership with the youngsters patrolling the blue line.
“He’s running all those kids back there. He’s the only vet I have back on D and he’s kinda in charge of all those kids.
“There are so many things that go into a victory that are unseen … there’s a word or a pat on the back or a bark in the dressing room. We’ve got a lot of good leaders and a room young players who have won before, so they all want to win, so it’s pretty exciting.”
Twenty games into the season, Hladun said he feels the club is sort where it was last season.
“The league is talking about a lot of good teams around the league, but they’re not mentioning the Wranglers. Yet, you look at our win percentage and we’re in the top 3 or 4 again; we’re just laying in the weeds.”
Hladun said this weekend (Nov. 25-26) the home and home games against the Chase Heat are going to be huge for both team because they’re playing for first place in the Doug Birks Division.
He added all of the games coming up before the Christmas break are going to be a tough three weeks.
“But we’re up for it and looking forward to it.”
He noted the players are relatively healthy going into the pre-Christmas stretch run.
Mitch Turko has been sent to Grand Forks.
“He want to go to Grand Forks because he has a friend playing there and they needed a player. He wanted a bigger role and he’ll get more playing time there.
“He’s a good kid and I wanted to help him, so I contacted Grand Forks and released him outright to them.”
However, Nick McCabe is back in the fold and it will be good to have another veteran in the lineup.
The Wranglers travel Chase on Nov. 25 and host the Heat on Nov. 26, with the puck dropping at 7 p.m.