The 100 Mile House Wranglers garnered a win and a tie in their last two games of the regular season to capture the Doug Birks Division title in their third year in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
The Wranglers had to settle for a 1-1 tie in Kamloops against the Storm, a team they had battled for first place in the division throughout the season.
Wranglers coach Dale Hladun says the Storm brought its A game and outplayed 100 Mile House.
“It was the best they played against us all year and they couldn’t beat us.”
He adds the regular season series between the two squads ended with the Wranglers getting five wins, two losses and a tie.
Brett Harris opened the scoring for the Wranglers with 42 seconds left in the first period, with assists going to Justin Bond and Nick McCabe.
However, the Storm tied the score with 47 seconds left in the third. Two overtime periods settled nothing as both goalies were outstanding, and the Storm was still one point behind the Wranglers for the division title.
The next night at home, the Wranglers dominated the Chase Heat 6-1 to claim the Doug Birks Division banner. The Wranglers had a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period, lead 6-0 at the end of the second and gave up a power play goal to Chase with a minute left in the third.
Round 1 playoffs
The Wranglers will take on the Revelstoke Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs with the first game yesterday (Feb. 24) – score not available at press time – and the second game today (Feb. 25) at the South Cariboo Rec. Centre starting at 7 p.m.
There will be two games (Feb. 27-28) in Revelstoke. If necessary, the teams will be back in 100 Mile House on March 2; in Revelstoke on March 3 and in 100 Mile House on March 4.
Hladun says Revelstoke is “kind of a Heckle and Jeckle” club.
“They can play pretty good. They have a couple of key players, and if they’re in the zone and their goaltender plays well, they can be pretty dangerous.
“But if we bring our A game and our guys play like they should, I’m confident we’ll get the results we want in a seven-game series.”
The coach says he doesn’t think either team will sweep the series.
He adds the Revelstoke crowd is raucous and loud. “Revy’s crowd is another man for them.”
Hladun says the Wranglers are going to have to challenge the Grizzlies where he thinks they may be vulnerable. He notes Revelstoke’s defensive corps is a little young and he’ll want his boys to pressure the defence so they have to move the puck quicker and make quick decisions.
Noting Revelstoke has good goaltending, Hladun will have to go to the net and pounce on the rebounds.