The Wranglers capped off a double-header with victories on Oct. 27 and 28 against Kamloops Storm (6-4) and Chase Heat (5-3), bringing them within three points of toppling the Revelstoke Grizzlies from first place in the Doug Birks Division.
“That’s up and down as the season goes because there’s still road trips, injuries and illnesses,” said head coach Dale Hladun. “Right now, we’re just focusing on playing as a club. Obviously, we are happy with our record but we’d like to improve it.”
The Wranglers scored four unanswered goals during the third period to win the game against Chase after going into the period losing 3-1.
“We want to be a three-period team,” said Hladun.”We got one of the deepest teams in our division.”
Their next two games are against an underachieving Kelowna and Osoyoos, which Hladun considers the hottest team in the league right now. Making the two tests harder will be the absence of leading scorer Justin Bond who has been suspended for two games during their battle with the Heat, after hitting someone from behind.
A recent acquisition via Kelowna Chiefs has already proven to be a force on the Wranglers side, rejoining the team for his second stint. Kolten Carpenter has dressed for nine games and has already scored seven total points including one assist against Kamloops and a brace of assists and a goal against Chase. Carpenter was also nominated as the first star of the game.
Another standout is Garrett Hilton, having a four-point game against Chase (two goals, two assists) and one assist against Kamloops, combining for a five-point weekend. Frazer Dodd, 18, also exploded against the Storm with a man of the match performance, notching two goals to his belt with two assists.
Bond, 100 Mile’s leader in goals (12), points (27) only managed to bag an assist from a Joel Patsey goal against Kamloops, while his production didn’t explode like it did against North Okanagan Knights on Oct. 21, where he bagged one goal and four helpers, fans shouldn’t worry. With 30 games left to play, Bond is still on pace to achieve roughly 50 points, setting it up for a career best.
One thing the Wranglers have left desirable is their discipline. They found themselves on the penalty kill ten times over the two games, with their opponents capitalizing three times. This isn’t all that bad, considering they are still in the top six percentile (84.02 per cent) for the penalty kill, only letting 39 power play goals so far in 15 contests but have racked up 426 penalty minutes (also led by Bond at 55). But a number of penalty minutes players spend in the box doesn’t bother Hladun.
“If I calm him down on penalties, then he’s not battling for the puck as hard and I think he gets the puck because he’s being physical.” said the coach, who also hinted the misconduct penalty he took may have been embellished by the opponent. “I encourage it as long as it’s a battle.”
The crazy thing is the Wranglers have only been scored on six times during even strength, with the two remaining goals coming when the 100 Mile side has the man advantage.
“My attitude is it’s all practice until the playoffs. You can’t teach everything at once,” said Hladun. “What we have been focusing on is basically even man strength situations. That’s our strength.”