The 100 Mile House Wranglers of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) had another weekend of mixed results after beating the Chase Heat 6-5 on Sept. 27, and losing 7-3 to the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Sept. 28.
“We certainly can score. We can fly, and it was quite an interesting game because we’d score and then Chase would, we’d score they’d pull their goalie, they scored, we pulled our goalie. It was a very back and forth game,” said head coach and general manager Dale Hladun on the Chase game. “The game here against Creston, I thought we played well. It was 4-3 they scored late, the game ended up 7-3 but I pulled the goalie. They got three empty-net goals, so the score looks scary but it was one goal game and we just tried to tie up and we couldn’t. Then we had a power play and I thought ‘well, let’s keep the goalie out.”
Hladun capped off his weekend recap with saying he needs more from the team’s goaltenders, adding that they may be in for a rude awakening in the future, and that there may be a new face(s) coming to 100 Mile House to play that position.
“I do need better from our goaltenders, both of them. If they’re going to be comfortable being here maybe they won’t be here. Like I’m going to be pretty blunt, goaltending wins you championships and we’re giving them an opportunity to help guide a team to win a championship here and if they think good enough is good enough, it ain’t.”
Some new faces already made it to the team sheet during those two games, with Brandt Fiske, Ryan Piva and Kyler Opp all making their debuts for the club.
“Sometimes bringing in a new face kind of makes it dead serious. I’m trying to elevate our play. We’re trying to get the pieces to win a title,” said Hladun about a shakeup that he hinted wasn’t quite over. “We got some new players. I think Brandt Fiske and Kyler Opp had a really good weekend for basically having one practice and learning guys’ names.”
Hladun called Opp a hard-hitting defenceman and a very likeable kid with great game sense. Fiske, he said, is similar; a hard-working forward who can fly.
According to Hladun though, Piva sounds like the prize capture.
“He’s a pretty elite scorer. I think our fans liked him right out of the gate, I think they liked all three but Ryan is a pretty dynamic player and he’s the type of guy who can get [Garrett] Hilton type points or maybe even Brody Dale points. We’re pretty lucky that we got Ryan.”
Garrett Hilton played for the Wranglers last season, scoring 72 points. Brody Dale played for the Kelowna Chiefs last season, scoring 50 goals and 73 assists for 123 points.
Piva split last season between the KIJHL’s Nelson Leafs and the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Drayton Valley Thunder. He scored 32 points in 17 games for Nelson and 14 points for Drayton in 29 games.
The nineteen-year-old forward scored a goal and an assist in his first game for the Wranglers, and two assists against Creston. Piva is also wearing Hilton’s old number, 89.
The Wranglers’ first two games of October are against the Kamloops Storm on Oct. 4 (away) and a home game against the Fernie Ghostriders at home on Oct. 5.