On Twitter, 100 Mile House Wranglers forward Mathieu Longhurst called it the “bus ride from hell.”
The Junior B hockey club left town at 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 2 after practice and didn’t arrive in Fernie until 6 p.m. (MT) on Jan. 3 for a 7:30 p.m. game.
“We were on the bus virtually the entire time during this stretch as the highway was closed at Revelstoke, causing us to travel the southern route until we ran into a road closure on the Kootenay Pass,” explains coach Doug Rogers.
“The kids missed meals and were forced to sleep on the bus due to road conditions.”
Needless to say, it wasn’t the ideal start to a new year of hockey for the Wranglers. Not to mention kicking off a three-game road trip against some of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s premier teams.
In Fernie, the Wranglers lost 4-2. On Jan. 4, Creston outscored 100 Mile House 8-1.
In Kimberley on Jan. 5, the Wranglers dropped a close game, 2-1.
“When you start a three-game road trip in two-and-a-half days, right after the Christmas break, and have the kids start with no sleep, it makes for a very long weekend.”
That said, Rogers adds he has “no concerns” about the group bouncing back.
“But, it is frustrating that the circumstances did not allow us to get some points in Fernie and Kimberley. In both games, points were achievable, but we did not have the energy to get it done.”
The Wranglers outshot Fernie 38-30 and the shots were about even, 23-22 in favour of Kimberley, against the Dynamiters.
The Creston Valley Thunder Cats are a different story.
“Creston is without a doubt the best team we have played so far this year,” Rogers says.
“Going into the game, we knew they had won 18 of their last 21…. They are loaded with skilled 20-year-olds and it showed.
“Some times you just need to tip your cap to your opponent as being better and they were certainly better than us on this night.”
With the loses, the Wranglers record moves to 17-17-0-4. They’re tied for second place in the Doug Birks Division with the Chase Heat at 38 points, and Chase has a game in hand.
The Wranglers host Kimberley at the South Cariboo Rec. Centre on Jan. 10 at 7 p.m. and head to Chase on Jan. 11.
“We need to bounce back this weekend,” Rogers adds.
“The players will all understand the urgency attached to the last push of the season, and it will need to be displayed starting Friday night.”