The 100 Mile House Wranglers took three of a possible four points on the road in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League action last week.
However, general manager and head coach Dale “Duner” Hladun wasn’t happy with the game against the Kamloops Storm on Sept. 27, which ended in a two-all tie.
The Wranglers notched the lone goal by Nolan Parr (Frazer Dodd) in the first period and opened up a two-goal lead midway through the second stanza by Darian Long (Justin Bond, Dodd). Dodd was named the game star.
The home team narrowed the gap with three minutes left in the second and knotted the score midway through the third period. Two overtime periods solved nothing.
“After we played Revelstoke – we had a couple of suspensions – but I was happy with the effort and playing ‘heavy’ hockey. We played well against Revy and they’re a good team and I was happy with everyone being accountable.”
In the game against Kamloops, however, Duner says the boys “went away from that with all the stick checks.”
“I was disappointed in them getting away from the brand we’re trying to be as a team.”
The coach says the next practice they focused on winning the battles, puck protection and one-on-ones.
“They have to separate a man from the puck and a teammate gets the loose puck. Again, our goal is to be a team that no one wants to face in a series.”
The Wranglers won 7-2 against Sicamous on Sept. 30.
Noting Sicamous is getting players and is getting better, Duner says they will start winning games soon.
“We can’t take Sicamous for granted. Good for them; they pushed hard at the end of the game.”
Wrangler goals came from Bond (Kyle Lindstrom, Rob Raju); Lindstrom (Parr, Kolby Page); Jackson Miller (Julien Dewey); Long (unassisted); Dysen Rhinehart (Lindstrom, Bond); and Lindstrom (Kevin Fillier, Bond).
Duner says he was really happy for Lindstrom who had a four-point night with two goals and a pair of assists.
“We’ve been working on Kyle, stressing that if he runs into people with that big body of his, he’s going to wear defencemen down. We tell him he’s a hard guy to control, so go to the net and good things will happen.”
The team was a little short-handed, so they moved Raju to defence. The coach says Raju has experience playing on defence.
“We’re going to experiment next game and leave him on defence. He’ll give us extra offence from the D-line.”
Duner says he was also happy with the play of Quinn Garrison, Miller and Dewey.
“Your depth is your strength and I think our depth is becoming strong.”
The Wranglers only had one goalie for the game because the Merritt Centennials’ goalie was injured and will be out for a month, so Jared Breitkreuz was sent up.
Hayden won the game for the Wranglers and Duner says he played well.
Meanwhile, Jakob Severson is back, so the Wranglers will have two goalies while Breitkreuz is away.
“So I have a month to figure out what I’m going to do in net. I’m going to have three very good goalies.”
Noting Long and Page have been really good on the penalty kill, Duner says Long had another great short-handed goal.
“It’s interesting Darian knew the goaltender we were playing in Sicamous and told the boys they can go 5-hole on him. When he had the puck at centre, you know he was going there and that’s exactly what he did.”
The Wranglers host Kamloops on Oct. 6 and travel to Sicamous on Oct. 7.