When you look at the Doug Birks Division standings of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL), you will see the 100 Mile House Wranglers are sitting in second place – four points behind Chase and one up on Kamloops.
Last weekend’s three-game road trip to Kelowna, Osoyoos and Princeton didn’t help the standings much as the Wranglers only grabbed two of a possible six points.
Coach and general manager Dale Hladun says the road trip was an important weekend as the regular season moves into the second half.
“You know winning sometimes covers up some of the things you have to work on. I think it’s important to have adversity to figure out where everything is at.”
He says the lads played good and he’s happy.
A couple of things came up at the last minute.
“We had a couple of injuries and defenceman Kevin Fillier is still injured and Ryan Friesen had to go home and couldn’t join us on the swing. So we only took 20 guys and brought affiliate player Jaymes Pattie – a defenceman from Prince George with us.
“So, I thought we did all right. There’s some tough teams over there.”
Noting Kelowna, which shut out the Wranglers 4-0, leads the league in penalties and was “gooning, whacking and hacking” and that’s how they’re winning.
However, the coach says he saw his boys will to win was apparent.
Hladun notes Osoyoos is in the running to win the league and perhaps the provincial title, too. They knocked off the Wranglers 4-3 in overtime.
He was pleased with the Wranglers performance and noted goalie Clay Stevenson was a “stud’ for them all weekend.
“Clay was fantastic all weekend and the reason the games were close. It’s starting to rubber-stamp him as one of the top prospects in the KIJHL.
“It’s frustrating when you see the overtime winning goal be so blatantly offside and what are you going to do.”
He adds the Wranglers have only had two losses this year that they knew they were not going to win – last weekend’s Kelowna loss and an early season 7-2 loss to Summerland Steam, which comes to 100 Mile House on Dec. 10 (Teddy Bear Toss) night, with the puck dropping at 7 p.m.
Most of the losses have been one-goal affairs or in overtime.
“We have the lead in a number of games, have everything under control and then loose control because we are trying to score another insurance goal.
“We have to learn to have control for the full 60 minutes, and that’s what we’re going to be practising for the rest of the regular season.”
The Wranglers traded right-winger Alex Meeker to the Nelson Leafs last week.
Hladun says the team was heavy with right-wingers and Meeker will him get more ice time with Nelson and it will help grow as a player.
While the Wranglers got a player in exchange, he won’t be available under the end of this season.