It might be a different-looking lineup come Jan. 24 when the 100 Mile House Wranglers host the Osoyoos Coyotes at the South Cariboo Rec. Centre.
The local Junior B hockey club has a number of injuries following tough losses last weekend – 5-4 to Sicamous in double-overtime on Jan. 17, and 3-2 to the Fernie Ghostriders on Jan. 18.
Defenceman Jayden Syrota and forwards Michael Lynch, Matt Longhurst and Kevin Raimundo are currently day-to-day with injuries, while Jordan Low and Donovan Law have been called up to the Prince George Spruce Kings, a Junior A team, and it’s unknown if they’ll be in the Wranglers’ lineup this weekend.
Coach/general manager Doug Rogers says with six regular skaters potentially out, they may have to rely on affiliated players. After hosting Osoyoos, the Wranglers travel to meet division-rival Sicamous Eagles on Jan. 25.
The Wranglers made their final roster moves of the season recently. New additions include goaltender Magnus Viberg, 18, and forward Shane Doherty, 18, both of Calgary. Viberg played 17 games with the Creston Valley Thundercats this season, while Doherty played 11 games with the Columbia Valley Rockies.
“We knew we had to address our goaltending and scoring,” explains Rogers. “With the addition of Viberg and now Doherty, we have addressed both those needs.
“Both are eligible to return next year. This further displays the Wranglers’ commitment to not only this year, but making sure the future is solid moving forward.”
On Jan. 17, Sicamous tied the game 4-4 with under a minute to play. The teams went 3-on-3 in double overtime, where Rogers says “anything can happen.”
What looked to be a goal for the Wranglers was disallowed early in the game. Rogers, putting a positive spin on things, is tongue-in-cheek when discussing the officials.
“I will simply be complimentary of past officiating performances, in that every game I have coached during my three years in the [Kootenay International Junior Hockey League] has had better officiating than was displayed on Friday night.
“This is simply an acknowledgement and recognition of good league officiating in the past.”
He adds Sicamous is a “solid” and “well-coached” team.
“It is difficult enough to beat a strong opponent without having to compete against other factors in the game.”
Tyson Levesque, Raimundo, Lane van de Wetering and Luke Santerno scored goals for 100 Mile House, with assists by Low, Raimundo, Santerno, Law (3), van de Wetering and Kenny Nordstrom. Kristian Stead made 37 saves on 42 shots.
Puck management was a problem against Fernie, Rogers says.
“We need to realize that as we get closer to playoffs and into playoffs, mistakes with the puck are magnified as they can change playoff positioning, and once in playoffs, can change an entire series. Again, we are extremely young, with little experience, so we will need to continue to learn as we go.”
Low scored in the first period and Santerno scored in the third for the Wranglers. Lynch, Bradley Williams, Low and van de Wetering earned assists.
Stead stopped 28 of 31.
With 43 points, the Wranglers (19-18-0-5) are second place in the Doug Birks Division, ahead of the Chase Heat (19-19-0-2) at 40 points and Sicamous (17-21-0-2) with 36 points. Kamloops (33-7-0-2) leads the division with 67 points. Revelstoke (7-30-0-3) is last with 17 points.
The Wranglers clinched a playoff spot last weekend.
“There will be some frustrating nights … but it is important for us to realize where we have come as a group and clinching a playoff spot with about 20 per cent of the season left to play is something to be proud of, especially in a team’s first year and starting from scratch,” Rogers concludes.