The 100 Mile House Wranglers broke the North Okanagan Knights three-game winning streak in back-to-back games over the weekend.
After losing 6-2 to the Knights in game one, the Wranglers came back, winning 5-3 on Sunday in their final opening exhibition of the season.
“North Okanagan did a good job at winning Saturday,” said Wrangler coach Dale Hladun, adding that Knights coach Liam McOniue has done a great job with the team.
The Wranglers gained control of Sunday’s game early when Ethan Sanders, with assists by Jace Myers and Bryce Burnett, scored the first goal six minutes in on a powerplay. The Knights were unable to answer the Wrangler’s goal and the first period ended 1-0 for the home team.
The Wranglers took advantage of a penalty against the Knights scoring early in the second period making the score 2-0. Things began getting physical with a shoving match around the Knight’s net around the halfway point with the Wranglers and Knights both getting two minutes for roughing before the Knights scored their first goal of the game. The Wranglers quickly replied, scoring their third goal a few minutes later.
The score was 3-1 at the start of the third period. The Wrangler’s game became increasingly physical as they racked up nine penalties including a 10-minute game misconduct over the 20 minutes. Their fourth goal of the night came midway through the period with the Knights scoring a power play goal minutes later. Tension began to rise as the visiting team scored a second power-play goal with four minutes remaining on the clock. With less than three minutes left in the period Keagan Landry, with an assist from Ethan Davey made the final score 5-3.
“It’s exhibition season so there are still kids trying to make the team,” said Hladun, commenting on the number of penalties in the third period.
“The rosters aren’t frozen, the majority of kids are still trying to find their way. Sometimes they are just trying to show that they’re going to be physical or trying to show they’re sticking up for teammates,” he said.
The week before they never really worked on penalty kills so he joked it was “good, we got a whole week of practice in this game to work on our penalty killing.”
Player-wise, the Wranglers’ skill has really improved since last year, Hladun said.
”At practice, the kids fly, they move the puck, everyone is a good skater.”
He said as well as being one of the youngest teams in the league, the Wranglers are an exciting club who are going to improve.
“We’re going to lose a couple of games we shouldn’t, but that is going to be from inexperience, not talent. I really like the potential of what our roster is going to be this year.”