Tied at one with the Princeton Posse six minutes into the third, 100 Mile House Wranglers defenceman Henry Hart sprung forward Lane van de Wetering on a short breakaway. van de Wetering was tripped up on the play and the referee pointed at centre ice signalling a penalty shot.
In front of the announced 549 in attendance at the South Cariboo Rec. Centre on Jan. 31, van de Wetering strolled down the middle of the ice, stick-handled once at the hash mark, and snapped the puck high glove-side, whipping it past the Princeton goaltender and notching the 2-1 game winner.
van de Wetering says he’s “never really been a big penalty shot guy.”
He was on this night.
“Somebody on the team told me to shoot it if I saw an opening. I saw the goalie was kind of in his net, so I waited a little bit and shot it to where I thought I could beat him.”
Like the home crowd has been doing all season long when a Wrangler lights a lamp, they erupted, and it was loud.
“The fans are always awesome,” van de Wetering says. “It was such a full house.”
Coach Doug Rogers calls it a “gritty” and “important” win for the local Junior B hockey club.
“I think that anyone who came to the game, saw one of the most entertaining games of the year.”
William Orrey earned a game misconduct for fighting in the first period and Stephen Egan was ejected for the same infraction in the second. The short bench had some players, like van de Wetering, skating more shifts to finish the game. Neither team scored in the first but Princeton (14-25-0-5) had a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes. In the third, Donovan Law scored on the power play for 100 Mile House at the 16:16 mark, with assists by Kenny Nordstrom and van de Wetering.
“It was a good character win for us,” Rogers says. “The players battled hard and deserved the win.”
On Feb. 1, 100 Mile House (22-20-0-5) was in tough on the road against the Kelowna Chiefs (29-13-0-3), Okanagan Division leaders.
Rogers says the 8-2 loss was a game to learn from and move on. Tyson Levesque notched the game’s only opening period goal, with assists by Robert Orrey and Egan. Kelowna scored the next four before Law scored goal No. 2, with assists to Bradley Williams and Michael Lynch, for 100 Mile House. Kelowna poured on four more in the final 20 minutes.
The Wranglers will be looking to avenge the loss when they host the Chiefs on Feb. 7.
On the road against the Sicamous Eagles (21-22-0-3), currently fourth behind the second place Wranglers in the Doug Birks Division, 100 Mile House fired 38 shots on goal to the home team’s 22, but still came up short 4-3.
Both van de Wetering and Rogers gave credit to Sicamous goalie Kris Joyce for a good performance, but Rogers adds the Wranglers needed a better presence in front of the net. He also mentions a “lack of discipline” late in the game, as Sicamous scored its fourth on the power play.
Law, Levesque and Luke Santerno found the back of the net for 100 Mile House, while Santerno, Levesque (2), R. Orrey, Lynch and Law were credited with assists.
100 Mile House travels to Revelstoke (8-33-0-4) on Feb. 8. Following that, they meet Kamloops (36-8-0-1) on Feb. 16, the Chase Heat (22-21-0-2) on Feb. 21, and, with the club’s inaugural regular season coming to an end, again against Kamloops on Feb. 22.
Out of the Wranglers lineup this weekend are Shane Doherty, Kevin Raimundo and Matt Longhurst.
The playoffs will potentially see the Wranglers meet Chase or Sicamous, which have two games and one game in hand, respectively, in Round 1. Should the Wranglers fall to fourth place in the division, they’ll meet the top-seeded Kamloops Storm.
“Looking forward, we will need to win four of our last five games to make sure we give ourselves the best opportunity to finish in second place and get home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs,” Rogers says.
“Our remaining games are not going to be easy. That being said, I have full confidence in our players. They have surprised us all with the season they have accomplished to date and I fully expect that more positive surprises are in store for the hockey fans of 100 Mile.”
Adds van de Wetering: “I think our team is ready to play whoever.”