The 100 Mile House Wranglers rebounded from their two losses last week with two back-to-back wins but also suffered another loss.
“Last week was alright. It’s a tough swing to the Kootenays, especially when we went shorthanded with 19 players only,” said Dale Hladun, the teams head coach and general manager.
First came the 4-1 victory over the Kamloops Storm on Oct. 22 at home. The four goals were found in the form of Jackson Kowblick, Kaden Dempsey, Sam Chabot, and Cody Barnes.
On Oct. 15, goalie Caelan Armstrong posted his first shutout as the Wranglers beat Castlegar Rebels. Keil Maclaren also had a stellar game, scoring two goals. He was named player of the game.
“I was quite impressed with the pace, quite impressed with the work ethic, again being shorthanded as we were, a lot of guys stepped up. I thought [Brandt] Fiske, Kowblick and [Chase] Vancoughnett-LaFleur had a good game.”
Kowblick had a few breakaways but didn’t manage to capitalize on them. However, Hladun said the key was that he keeps getting chances.
Hladun was impressed with Armstrong’s strong game. He said he was happy to see the 18-year-old get his first KIJHL shutout, which included a penalty shot. He added he was happy to see the rookie goalie was getting good minutes and helping the club out.
Captain Kolby Page also made it back to the teamsheet against Castlegar, scoring a goal and an assist.
“Having Kolby in the line up again is just a blessing because the amount of work ethic he brings, leadership in the room, [and] how he plays. It just makes everybody know that that’s the level we need to play and compete at.”
An 8-4 loss against the Nelson Leafs at the Nelson Community Complex closed thee weekend on Oct. 26. Kowblick (2), Cody Barnes and Quinn Mulder scored the four goals for the Wranglers.
Unfortunately, the Wranglers may be without Page for some time. Early in the first period, Page was hit from behind and Hladun said he believes his captain may have a concussion. He was not the only player injured, allowing some of the less experienced players some valuable ice time.
“I just felt the boys stepped up. The kids that don’t get a ton of minutes or a ton of opportunities in certain roles started doing well in those roles, so being shorthanded and being without your key vets actually gives a lot of minutes to other guys to analyze them.”
Jordan Wilde, the other half of the Wrangler’s goalie tandem, had a tough time against Nelson, allowing all eight goals in 22 shots.
According to Hladun, except the three power-play goals the team allowed in the first period, Nelson’s goals weren’t deserved.
“I just felt we played with them really well, and yet they scored on their chances and there wasn’t a ton they earned. They were giveaways, we gave them opportunities to score. We didn’t get the puck out, we passed it right to them and they got a chance – a clear chance and a rebound. Whether defencemen are over pinching in the neutral zone, it’s not like their tactics we’re swarming us.”
Hladun also took some responsibility for a goal scored in the last second of the second period. He openly wondered if he should have sent out a left-handed centreman instead of a right-handed one to take a draw in their defensive zone, which concluded in the fifth goal for Nelson from Shawn Campbell.
He said that his team certainly spent a lot of time in the box, which resulted in the three power-play goals in the first period.
“Right now, part of our game is being physical. We also have to learn when to say when and sometimes the kids take it over the edge a little too far,” said Hladun. “We got to just settle the boys down on a play. You can finish a hit but you don’t have to give an extra shot and that’s been kind of hurting us a little bit.”
Hladun said the team will address their demeanour on the ice during games this week at practice, as well as playing better in the neutral zone so they don’t give up many two-on-one plays.
The two players – Austin and Brady Daniels – who’s rights Hladun acquired in a trade with the Kimberley Dynamiters for Ryan Piva, have decided they will not be joining the Wranglers after all.
Austin and Brady Daniels will not be playing with the @100MiWranglers after all, according to head coach and general manager Dale Hladun. "They didn't want to play in 100 Mile House and that's fine."
— Brendan Kyle Jure (@BrendanKyleJure) October 28, 2019
“That’s the tough part of Junior B hockey now. Kids pay to play and so they get a lot of control on where they want to play. So every kind of a trade deal is not ‘I’ll give you this, you give me that.’ A lot of it is me talking to those players first and we got to convince them. Even if I move their rights to somebody the team has to talk to them and see if they want to play. It’s not as easy as a lot of people think,” said Hladun. “But if they don’t want to be here that’s a good sign there and we don’t need them in our dressing room. So we’re going to be working on moving their rights to some teams and I got a lot of interest in that.”
The Wranglers will play the Summerland Steam at the South Cariboo Rec Centre on Nov. 1. Opening faceoff is at 7 p.m. They will then travel to Kelowna to take on the Chiefs. On Nov. 5, the Wranglers will also host the Chase Heat with opening faceoff at 6 p.m.