After losing four games in a row, including the doubleheader against the Revelstoke Grizzlies on Nov. 17 (4-2) and 18 (4-1), head coach and general manager Dale Hladun of the 100 Mile House Wranglers is still confident in his club but says that there is still a lot of work to do.
“We needed the measuring stick for our guys to realize the pace and the compete level we must play at. I’m not happy we didn’t win but I think there were some good pieces in our game that are improving. I think our team is moving in the right direction,” he said.
The problem he said, attributing it to himself, is the club doesn’t stick to the same systems and aren’t firm on any of them, except maybe the powerplay and penalty kill units which have been solid all season. What they need to work on improving he said, is forechecking and the defensive zone coverage, which he described as being full of holes.
“We just got to beat it in the kid’s heads that just because you’re near a guy [or] you’re standing roughly in the right area you’re still not doing your job. We cannot let get someone loose. You got to make sure sticks are lifted and to make sure players are obstructed going towards the net. That’s just a commitment level the boys have to rise to,” he said.
The Wranglers have one of the biggest (despite being one of the youngest) teams in the league, however, Hladun said the team have not been using their physical presence at all. The sooner the players realize they can use their size in driving the net, one-on-one battles and puck protection the better.
“I think we’re full of assets but I don’t think we realize the value of those assets, nor are we maximizing them,” said Hladun.
Overall, Hladun said the club just needs to stay the course.
In the four-game stretch from Nov. 10-18, the Wranglers played the leagues three of the top teams in the Nelson Leafs, Kelowna Chiefs and Revelstoke.
In all four games, the Wranglers lost but Hladun said his team performed the best in each game’s third period. Instead of ‘gooning’ up or sitting back and taking the loss, his team fought until the end.
There were some other highlights during the streak Hladun was happy about, including the play of the team’s latest addition.
Miles Minor played his first game in his new team’s colours on Nov. 17. where he posted 38 saves in 41 shots. He also came out of the game as the star of the game in the team’s 4-2 loss.
“I’m hoping he’ll be our starter. He played a good first game and he moves well. He’s a calm goalie,” said Hladun. ” I’m pretty confident Miles will do well for us. He’ll probably play at least two games for us this coming weekend just to get more experience.”
The next three games are away. On Nov. 23, they will down to Summerland and then on to Princeton for a doubleheader on Nov. 24 and 25. They will finish the month off at home against the Osoyoos Coyotes on Nov. 30.