The Wranglers were in for a bit of a shock in the middle of their two-game series against the Sicamous Eagles.
“After the game, our offence wasn’t on fire but our bus was,” says head coach Dale Hladun. “As we loaded the bus, we got about a block from the rink, some belts caught fire so we had to get an emergency bus. The bus came from Kamloops and picked up the boys at two in the morning. As we were driving through Kamloops, that bus died and we had another delay and the poor kids didn’t get home. We unloaded the bus at 6:30 in the morning on game day so they wouldn’t have been in their own beds ‘til after seven.”
That ordeal came after a tough loss in Sicamous.
“Friday night in Sicamous I think the boys did a great job. We did a lot of things right other than win. It was kind of unique. We got 65 shots on net and couldn’t score a goal,” says Hladun. “Apparently we needed 66.”
That compared pretty well to Sicamous’ 38 shots. However, they, unlike the Wranglers, managed to find the back of the net once leaving the Wranglers 0-1 down in the final score.
“We’re moving in the right direction as a team. I just felt that they forechecked well, they had possession of the puck well. We just didn’t score.”
However, the problems with the bus didn’t seem to have shaken the Wranglers much.
“For them to come out like they did and purely dominate Sicamous the next day like we did, I’m pretty proud of those kids. There’s a lot of good character in that group.”
The second game saw the Wranglers beat Sicamous 6-2 at home, with goals by Jackson Kowblick, Jack Stewart, Kaden Dempsey, Ryan Piva and two by Darian Long, though the shots on goal were less lobsided in the second affair with the Wranglers at 37 to Sicamous’ 31.
The games saw the first action for 100 Mile’s new goaltender Jordan Wilde in a promising debut. In the first game, he was chosen second star, stopping 37 out of Sicamous’ 38 shots. In the second game, he stopped 29 out of Sicamous’ 31 shots.
“I thought he was fantastic. He’s certainly an elite level goaltender for our league and I got rave reviews just about him as a person from teams in Dryden and he used to play for the Storm and the billet homes and that spoke so well of him. We’re pretty lucky to have Jordan Wilde in our roster.”
The team has three goalies at the moment, which they’ll be carrying for a little while, says Hladun.
“I don’t wanna just let one go. I wanna make sure I have a good home for one of the three goalies.”
Hladun says he was also happy to have Kolby Page back.
“His leadership is second to none,” he says, adding that he makes even practises more intense. “When Colby played this weekend, as physically as he did and he’s still not a 100 per cent healthy, it’s inspiring.”
Other than a goalie, the Wranglers acquired another new player, defenceman Morgan Zorn, who started the season with the Creston Valley Thunder Cats. He’s a big kid with decent hands and a very good personality, according to Hladun. Hladun gave props to Darian Long, Quinn Mulder and Kaden Dempsey.
The two-game split leaves the Wranglers sitting second from the bottom in the division, just above the Kamloops Storm, but Hladun isn’t worried.
“I think if you look at every season I’ve been here, in our first 10 we win either five or four games. It takes a little longer for our club because we don’t get the shiny, fancy players. We get the tier twos and tier threes and we gotta be more patient with our kids that come up here and then they grow into something. You gotta be patient with the development and seeing the statue in the stone,” he says. “I’m building a team for the playoffs not for a division banner so to speak.”
“We’re moving in the right direction and are confident we can go toe to toe with anybody.”
It’s tough to say what their next opponent, the Columbia Valley Rockies, will be like since they haven’t played them yet, says Hladun.
The team will be using a charter bus in the immediate future, according to Hladun.