The weekend was a bit of a mixed bag for the 100 Mile House Wranglers of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, winning Nov. 30’s game against the Osoyoos Coyotes and then going on to lose 4-3 to the Sicamous Eagles on Dec. 2, before coming back to beat the Kamloops Storm 2-1 on Dec. 4.
Despite the scoreline being close, the Sicamous game was a sore point for Dale Hladun, head coach and general manager of the Wranglers.
“I thought the first period was one of our weakest periods in the seven or eight games. I was really disappointed with our effort. I felt the first goal they got on the net was really soft, their power play was so soft – a little wrist shot from above the top of the circle handcuffed our goaltender,” he said. “Kudos to Sicamous. They came shorthanded and it was a long drive home for them. They had every excuse to have if they didn’t win and we had no excuses. So I’m actually very upset with the effort right from our goaltender out to our veteran’s attitudes.”
Sicamous and 100 Mile are locked in a battle for second place of the Doug Birks Division, with 100 Mile House having the edge with four points over Sicamous’ 22 points.
However, Sicamous ranks last in power play success, only finding the net 7.48 per cent of the time when they have the man advantage. In 147 opportunities they have only scored 11 times. Two of those goals happened on Dec. 2 against the team with the third-best penalty kill (87.82 per cent).
Hladun went on to say the club got into a comfort zone because they won three games in a row (including Nov. 30’s game) and people were acting like they achieved some sort of milestone. There’s still a mountain to climb he said and that he would address that during practices through one-on-one meetings and going over the team’s systems.
Forward Garrett Hilton scored two goals in the game for the Wranglers, bringing his season total to 23. The third goal for the Wranglers was scored by Nico Hemming, which was also his third of the season. Darian Long, Ben Keon, Aidan Morrison and Nic Flinton all got assists.
The game against Osoyoos, however, was a more positive story.
“We noticed they had a very low defensive zone coverage and they would put four guys around two down low to try to win the puck battles, so what we tried doing was getting pucks to the point going D to D wide and getting shots on net,” explained Hladun. “I thought the kids certainly outworked them. I was really happy with the effort overall.”
The game also marked the return of player Julien Dewey, who had not been playing hockey competitively since he left the team at the end of the playoffs last season.
Dewey, who had 33 points last season, scored his first goal in his first game back. It was also the winning goal.
“It was a pretty nice goal. Boots [Harley Bootsma] kind of flipped him the puck in the air and the puck was about two and a half feet off the ground and Julien batted it in,” said Hladun. “He’s hungry to help us win a title and I think he was our playoff MVP last year. Getting his character into our dressing room should help.”
Jayce Schweizer and Kolby Page also scored a goal.
With that win against the Kamloops Storm, the Wranglers now have a record of 12-10-1-3 for 28 points, just 12 shy of divisional leaders, the Revelstoke Grizzlies.