They skated hard, finished their checks, looked for the open man, got some great goaltending and put four points in the bank.
That was exactly the 100 Mile House Wranglers’ goal for when they hosted the Osoyoos Coyotes and the Princeton Posse on Oct. 13 and 14 respectively.
Head coach and general manager Dale “Duner” Hladun says he was pleased with his team’s performance.
“I think the boys played strong all weekend.”
Noting that both are good teams, Duner says they always provide a tough test.
“Osoyoos is always one of the top teams in their division, and Princeton is off to one of its best starts in four or five years.
“I was really happy with the way the boys met their opponents.
“I thought [Jakob] Severson was strong all weekend, as he will be because he’s a veteran goaltender. If we make mistakes early in the season like we do, he’s always there to bail us out.
“I thought Justin Bond was the best player on the ice both nights. He was really strong.”
Duner says he doesn’t want to take anything away from Joel Patsey who got two power-play goals against the Posse.
“He was just as strong all weekend.”
The coach says the boys are just starting to find who they are.
“I think the other guys kind of went under the radar with [Rob Raju] scoring and Bond doing his thing and Frazer Dodd – those are the shiny players.”
However, he says the line of Julien Dewey, Jackson Miller and Quin Garrison were relentless.
“They ate up some good minutes. They played really strong and they’re some of the unsung heroes.”
In the game against Osoyoos, Duner says he thought the Wranglers was the better team in the first 40 minutes despite being down 2-0 going into the third period.
“There was a lot of calm in the room. We didn’t rant and rave – nothing like that.
“We just said, ‘We’re going to get into this situation where we played well enough to be in the lead and we’re not. We’re going to see this situation in the playoffs boys, so let’s see how we respond’.”
Coaching staff told them to simplify the game, Duner says, adding the players were told to head to the net and bang in some rebounds.
Garrett Hilton, who came back from a dislocated shoulder faster than expected, started the comeback with F. Dodd and Nolan Parr getting the assists at 18:06 of the third.
Bond (Kolby Page, Travis Gook) knotted the score four minutes later.
Osoyoos went up 3-2 with a power-play marker at 3:11.
However, Darian Long tied the game with another one of his big unassisted goals with 49 ticks left on the clock.
Six seconds later Bond scored the game-winner and was selected as the Wranglers star of the game.
Despite the 5-1 win over the Posse, Duner says Princeton is a team that works hard but they got frustrated near the end of the game.
“I told the guys just finish your checks and they’re going to get upset. We rolled our four lines and all the D-men and all the kids contributed in their own way.
“We had success because we’re deep. There are some talented kids who weren’t even in the lineup.”
The coach had praise for Gook, who was back after his four-game suspension, because of his leadership.
“As much as he does on the ice during a shift, he’s equally important as a voice on the bench and in the dressing room. That’s why he’s wearing a letter.”
Noting the Wranglers lost three of their first four games, Duner says his boys have been undefeated ever since with a couple of ties.
Raju (Patsey, Liam Dodd) open the scoring against the Posse with 37 seconds gone in the first frame.
Bond (L. Dodd) doubled the score midway through the period, but the Posse got one back with 22 seconds left on the clock.
Bond (Raju) scored in the second stanza for the 3-1 lead.
Then Patsey got back-to-back power-play goals to close out the scoring. Page, Bond, L. Dodd and Parr got the assists.
The Wranglers are off to Chase to take on the Heat on Oct. 20 before coming home to host the North Okanagan Knights on Oct. 21.