100 Mile House scored very early, and very late.
Against the Kelowna Chiefs on Feb. 7, fans at the South Cariboo Rec. Centre barely had time to find their seats before the Wranglers sniped two goals in the opening minute. This added some cushion and helped carry a tough game with the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Okanagan Division leader into overtime.
With a depleted lineup and three affiliated players – Riley Harder, Rick Mack and Simon Kiiskila – in the game for the Wranglers, the local Junior B hockey club played Kelowna (31-14-0-3) to a much closer finish – 5-4 overtime loss – than their last meeting on Feb. 1, which was 8-2 defeat.
“I was very impressed with our effort,” says coach Doug Rogers. “Of the regulars we dressed for this game, over half were either playing injured or had various stages of a cold or flu.
“Although having a two-goal lead with four minutes left and then to lose in overtime is not the best result, it was a solid effort given the circumstances of our lineup, illness, injuries and our opponent. To get the single point out of this game will be critical to our playoff positioning.”
Bradley Williams, from Michael Lynch and Connor Sloan, scored for 100 Mile House less than 30 seconds after puck drop. Cole Zimmerman, from Stephen Egan and Tyson Levesque, followed that up less than 30 seconds later.
Donovan Law, from Lane van de Wetering and Luke Santerno, added to the lead later in the period before the Chiefs answered late in the first frame, and notched the game’s only second-period goal.
Sloan, from Lynch and Williams, scored for the Wranglers with 8:28 left in the game, to take a 4-2 lead. Kelowna fired two home before regulation time expired, then scored with 1:56 left in the first overtime period.
Against the Grizzlies in Revelstoke on Feb. 8, it was Lynch winning a face off in the Wranglers’ zone with 10 seconds left in a 1-1 game, and Law carrying the puck end-to-end and back-handing the winner with 0.6 seconds on the clock.
The Wranglers (23-20-0-6) outshot the Grizzlies (8-36-0-4) 61-25. With recent injuries and call-ups to different Junior A hockey clubs, 100 Mile House only dressed 18 players. Before Law’s late-game heroics, it was Williams, from Kiiskila, scoring in the second frame, before Revelstoke knotted the score 1-1 in the third.
The Wranglers, currently second in the Doug Birks Division with 52 points – trailed closely by Chase (24-22-0-2) with 50 and Sicamous (21-24-0-3) with 45 – play next in Lillooet against the Kamloops Storm (38-8-0-1), which is the Doug Birks Division leader with 77 points, on Feb. 16.
Santerno and goalie Kristian Stead will likely be playing with the Merritt Centennials of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) this weekend and will be unavailable for the game against Kamloops, Rogers says. Defenceman Jordan Low, who has been playing with the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings, is set to play against Kamloops.
Robert Orrey and Braeden St. Louis are also probable to return. Mathieu Longhurst is unlikely for Sunday. Shane Doherty and Kevin Raimundo are not expected to play, while defenceman Henry Hart has been suspended two games for a major penalty.