The 100 Mile House Wranglers have had a tough start to December, losing three of their seven games this month. So far, the team has only managed to score three goals in those games and conceded 12.
“It’s a little disappointing. We’re on a three-game losing streak after having such a strong month in November. It’s frustrating for all of us – players and coaches alike and probably even fans. A lot of that falls on my shoulders, I mean, watching our team, our team systems are very hit and miss. I feel our penalty kill has disappeared and our powerplay is struggling,” said Dale Hladun, head coach and general manager.
The Wranglers started off the month with a 3-0 loss against Kamloops, failing to capitalize on five powerplay opportunities and five-on-five play, despite outshooting the Storm 33 to 29.
Following that was a 4-2 loss to the Kimberley Dynamiters at the South Cariboo Rec Centre.
The Dynamiters are the league’s leaders with 23 wins and 47 points. It was also the only game Hladun thought the Wranglers dominated a single period of hockey in. It was the third period, where the Wranglers scored their two goals through Keil Maclaren and Harley Bootsma.
“I got to watch a lot of film, have a few player meetings and try to get us back on track,” said Hladun. “I think what I got to start looking at is that we need more blood coming in too. I have had some leads on some players from Jr. A, then there may be a chance that we’re going to move a body or two as well.”
The Wranglers still have four cards they can fill, and it’s likely that all four will be filled over the Christmas break. In the previous weeks, Hladun was talking about moving one of the goaltenders on, and he has followed through with that. Caelan Armstrong has been released and has gone back home to Saskatchewan.
Hladun also went on to say that sometimes players need a new voice, and hockey teams need to shake things up in their line up from time to time. He said he needs a lot of players to step it up and stop being comfortable in their role. The bottom line is that almost anyone on his roster has an insecure job.
He admitted there is a lot of frustration right now, particularly over a host of small little mistakes that keep on getting addressed but haven’t changed.
“There’s no one point that we got to change, we just have to remember all the little points and that’s the problem here,” he said, particularly about faceoffs, defensive coverage and goalies getting beat high-glove side. “There’s frustration amongst the team. You can hear it on the bench and I mean, even I’m frustrated and I’m talking the wrong way to the kids. I’m talking with anger instead of direction and so all this falls on me.”
Hladun spoke about the coaching staff’s effort in trying to reduce the team’s taking of undisciplined penalties, which has been successful but it has also hampered the team’s physicality. Something which he said was evident in the team’s 5-1 loss against Princeton on Dec. 7.
He said they overcorrected in such a way, that teams are no longer scared to play against them at home.
“They beat us in our rink 5-1 and Princeton Posse made a point of moving to the empty dressing room closest to our room to sing their victory song, so we would hear it and just talk down to us. If that doesn’t anger a team and doesn’t bring some passion and will to win then I’ll be concerned.”
The Wranglers can get a taste of revenge against Princeton, who will make a return to 100 Mile on Dec. 20. Prior to that, 100 Mile will visit Revelstoke Grizzlies (Dec. 14) and Chase Heat (Dec. 17).