The 100 Mile House Wranglers of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) opened up their 2018-19 playoff campaign with a 3-1 win over the Sicamous Eagles on Feb. 26.
“Overall, I was comfortable with our team game,” said head coach Dale Hladun, who is also the team’s general manager.
However, he also said that Sicamous played a strong game and is under no illusion Sicamous will trying to claw their way back.
“No matter how you do in one game, win or lose, the next game you have to be ready. Their [Sicamous] goal is to come here and split, minimum. They’ll be coming nasty tonight (Feb. 27) but we’ll bring our ‘A’ game and stay focused and we’ll be going to Sicamous with a strong lead,” said Hladun.
One of the Wranglers goals was on the powerplay, scored by defenceman Aidan Morrison and assisted by captain Kolby Page and Darian Long.
It was the only successful powerplay goal in the game, with the Wranglers having six other chances. Sicamous had the man advantage six times but failed to capitalize.
Hladun said he thought his powerplay units moved the pucks alright but he wasn’t happy with the shot count. He said the team was moving the puck far more than what was needed and the players need to start getting more pucks on the net for rebounds.
He did say he was happy with the forechecking.
Page and Long also scored a goal each, with Garrett Hilton assisting on both. Jayce Schweizer also assisted on Page’s goal, while the captain notched his third point of the game on Long’s goal.
Hladun said the team’s penalty kill unit did well, holding the visiting team scoreless in all six attempts.
He also mentioned that he felt some of the less flashy players were essential to how the game turned out, such as defencemen Ryan McMann, Kyle Haugo and forward C.J. Zimmerman.
“Ryan McMann, he’s not a flashy player but he’s a hard player to play against,” said Hladun. “I thought he did a good job on the penalty kill and in the defensive zone in general.”
For Zimmerman, Hladun was impressed with his forechecking and physicality.
However, some of the Wranglers have some bumps and bruises and will be off the team sheet for the Feb. 27 matchup, including Raeyden Beauchamp, who is not injured but is an affiliate player. Beauchamp’s midget team is going to provincials, so he will be focusing on that.
Jake Gullmes had a good game between the pipes, making 35 saves on the 36 shots he faced. Hladun said he was a really important figure in the 3-1 win, and was given the nod to start for the Feb. 28 game.