The 100 Mile House Wranglers have gone 1-1 after their return from the league-wide Christmas break, winning against archrivals Chase Heat in overtime 3-2 on Jan. 5 and losing to the Summerland Steam in a 2-1 tight battle on Jan. 6.
“Since the break, practices have been a good tempo. I’m really really impressed with how the kids came back. They just work hard and I think they really want to win and you can see it in their demeanour,” said head coach and general manager Dale Hladun.
Hayden Lyons earned the second star of the game honours in both games, only conceding four goals while facing a combined 59 shots. Forty of those shots were from Chase, which has one of the best power plays in the league. Lyons and the team managed to keep the opposing team’s offensive special teams off the scoresheet.
“Hayden was the major reason we played well in both games,” said Hladun. “I’m really happy with the development and direction of Hayden.
Lyons began the campaign as the third goaltending behind Jakob Severson and Jared Breitkreuz but after Hladun dealing Breitkreuz to Chase and an injury to Severson in December, Lyons has put together a string of impressive performances that could challenge Severson for the starring role when he becomes fit.
Hladun reckons the Wranglers will potentially face Summerland in the conference finals come playoff time. He said the first goal Summerland scored against them was undeserved.
“I thought the first goal, they didn’t really earn it. It was just kind of a mental mistake and they got the puck and slammed it in,” he said but felt the Wranglers played an overall good game.
“No reason why we should hang our heads after that one.”
The second goal against 100 Mile came after an icing call against them.
The lone goal came from rookie affiliate forward, Colby Rhodes, playing in just his third game with the team.
The shot from the blue line beat the goalie high on the blocker side.
“I thought he did really well,” said Hladun. “He’s a good prospect for the future.”
The Wranglers are still facing a lack of natural defencemen following injuries to Kevin Fillier, Dawson Long and Liam Dodd. Rob Raju and Darian Long have both spent time patrolling the blue line and have fared pretty well. Raju collected two assists against Chase.
Kamloops Storm will be coming to 100 Mile House on Jan. 9.
“Despite the fact they’re in fourth, they are as dangerous as any team in our division,” said Hladun. “It’s going to be a battle on Tuesday.”