After shutting out the North Okanagan Knights 2-0 Saturday, the 100 Mile House Wranglers found themselves in the same boat Sunday when the Sicamous Eagles beat them 0-3.
Coach Dale Hladun said the Parents Weekend games show that while the Wranglers have talent there are still holes that need to be filled. Two of these holes come from the recent retirement of player Colton Thon due to an injury and the loss of Maquire Ratzlaff who left the team for Saskatchewan’s Melvin Millionaires.
“Being a hockey coach I don’t know if I’m ever not grumpy. We won Saturday night against North OK but there were so many holes in our game and so much we need to clean up,” Hladun said. “The next day you could see those same holes show up and Sicamous capitalized on them.
“We do look dysfunctional out there and even our top kids are getting away with mistakes and we’ve got to get more structure to our game.”
Hladun said his players are working hard and his challenge is getting them to work smart. He added they still need to fully adopt the tough hard-to-play-against spirit of Wranglers hockey.
Saturday night’s game was a nail-biter and a tense fight for both teams, which proved to be evenly matched as they fought for control of the puck. Despite several powerplays, neither team was able to gain an advantage and ended the period with a draw.
Throughout the second period, the frustration and aggression of the players became more apparent. There were several near-fights and missed shots but the board remained blank. The Wranglers’ defence, anchored by Loic Mainguy-Crepault in net, even held the line during a double power play in the Knights’ favour.
“Our goaltending has been the backbone of our team so far and Loic Mainguy-Crepault did a great job on Saturday and got player of the game,” Hladun said. “I thought Casey Thomson played equally as well on Sunday and it’s unfortunate we didn’t get the win for him.”
When the Wranglers’ Reid Stumpf finally found a gap in the defence of Gabriel Murrells-Allaway in the third period, his goal was met by a roar of approval from the entire stadium. As the final minutes of the period neared, Jace Myers punished the Knights for pulling their goalie by bringing the score to 2-0.
On Sunday, Hladun said the Wranglers spent too much of the night doubling or even tripling coverage on specific Sicamous players, giving the other team chances to score. One bright spot from the game came from Tanner Hooper, whom Hladun said stirred up the Eagles.
“For a 20-year-old man who hasn’t played in three years he’s everyday leaps and bounds getting better,” Hladun said.
The Wranglers will hit the road early this weekend to head to Princeton and Osoyoos for back-to-back games. Hladun said the Wranglers will also take food and toiletries donations to the citizens of Princeton, who were affected by the recent floods.
“The Cariboo people have been fantastic with donations. Hopefully, we’ll have a big load of stuff to take down and then we’ll offer our help around town,” Hladun said. “It’s a sad situation down there and it may be only a drop in the bucket but people seeing others care has to buoy their spirits.”