After a win and a cancelled game, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s (KIJHL) 100 Mile House Wranglers are now locking horns with the Kamloops Storm for third place in the Doug Birks Division, each with 39 points.
“No, it’s not a concern,” said Dale Hladun, head coach and general manager of the Wranglers. “We just got to focus on our game. The only way to do things is to look forward and not backwards. We’re pretty comfortable right now with our game.”
He said the roster is shaping up in a structure and coming together as a team. He also mentioned team discipline is getting better as well.
Their game against the Summerland Steam on Jan. 31 showed how comfortable the team can be.
Winning the game 5-3, saw two of the team’s late additions score two goals each. Khale Skinner, a forward who joined the team in January from the Columbia Valley Rockies, scored two first period goals, ending the period 3-2 in Summerland’s favour.
Cory Loring, who joined the team last month and a former Summerlander, scored two goals as well, including the game-winning goal.
“He had a big game. I thought Cory has played strong for us every game in my opinion and he just brought another level. He wanted to win and he got two goals. The game winning-goal and then the extra goal. He was a force for the Wranglers,” said Hladun.
The head coach and general manager went on to say that he heard a lot of comments about the twenty-year-old Williams Laker, including people from Summerland. He said they were happy with how Loring, who was with Summerland for three seasons, was playing
Both of Loring’s goals, along with Darian Long’s game-drawing goal, came in the third period. Neither team scored a goal in the second period.
Hladun also mentioned he was happy with Skinner and his two “key” goals.
He moved on to the team’s goalie, Jordan Wilde, saying Wilde probably wanted to take back a goal or two he conceded in the first period. Hladun also said that Wilde’s mental toughness allowed him to bounce back and shut the door on Summerland for the remaining two periods.
“That’s what you need from a veteran goalie, just to show that we’re going to climb out of this hole, and he did. I was impressed with his will to win”
Another player Hladun praised was rookie defenceman Logan Gooder-Zimmer. The 18-year-old Albertan has played 31 games this season, and Hladun said he was one of the most subtle, yet consistent players in the lineup.
“He really pushes the paces, he’s very good in battle and he’s among the most improved players this year as far as I’m concerned.”
Darian Long also received some praise, after blocking a shot and continued to play on despite being obviously in pain.
“That’s kind of the key in our twenty-year-olds with [Harley] Bootsma and [Kolby] Page. It’s like a M.A.S.H unit when they tape those guys up before a game but they are just like ‘tape me up, I want to play.’”
They were supposed to play the North Okanagan Knights on Feb. 1, however, the game was cancelled after the Knights’ arena had no power. The game will have to be rescheduled.
Defenceman Garrett Hunter was also called up to the Merritt Centennials of the BCHL and played for them on Feb. 4.
The Wranglers will host the Sicamous Eagles on Feb. 7 and will play away in Kamloops on Feb. 8. They also play Revelstoke Grizzlies on Feb. 11, with the faceoff at 6 p.m.