The 100 Mile House Wranglers were shut out 5-0 by the Sicamous Eagles on home ice last Sunday.
This marked the Wranglers’ first game of 2022 and a frustrating one for coach Dale Hladun. The Eagles were only able to field 16 players and had their coach suspended, yet were still able to pull off a decisive victory.
“That was a big game on Sunday. If we’d have won the game we would’ve locked in our spot in the playoffs. Instead, we lost to a shorthanded team and it’s just a disappointing effort all around,” Hladun said. “We only got 14 shots on net so now I’m trying to spark a little bit of anger and passion in the kids.”
A mindset “of rolling with it” seems to have settled over the team which Hladun said he doesn’t like at all. He pointed to a moment during the game while music was playing when one of his players danced on the bench, despite the fact their team was losing.
In fact, the player who impressed him the most on the ice wasn’t even a Wrangler but instead Mason Pincott, an affiliate player from the Williams Lake Midget Timberwolves.
“Mason he’s just a worker. My goodness, he’s got the heart of a Lion. On one play he was backchecked and came all the way from the opposing ends goal crease, lifted a guy’s stick in our slot and turned it around and did an attack on a two on one,” Hladun said. “He’s inspiring and we’re pretty lucky to have him in the affiliate lineup.”
To try and energize the team Hladun said he’ll be placing some veteran players in the stands in upcoming games and fill their rolls with affiliate players. He also intends to reshuffle the team lineup and bring in some new hungry players to get the Wranglers back to form.
“There’s a trade deadline coming up Jan. 10 so we’re looking to move some players out and hopefully add some more passion. We’ve got to build not only for the rest of this season but also create a base to start next year as well,” Hladun said. “I just think a shakeup is what’s required.”
Hladun has already brought in two new players to the team this season, Cade Enns of Williams Lake and Bryce Burnett of Crofton. Enns is the older brother of Wrangler forward Finley Enns and is “a good kid with decent skills, we’re lucky to have him.”
Burnett, meanwhile, is a young player with good offensive skills who Hladun thinks could be exciting to watch. Hladun said the Wranglers are currently lacking strong offensive capabilities with the departure of Nathan Bohmer and Macquire Ratzlaff earlier in the season and Burnett could help fill that gap.
The Wranglers hit the road this weekend facing the North Okanagan Knights on Friday and the Summerland Steam on Saturday. Hladun said this will be a busy month for the team who are scheduled to play 11 games total.
“I told the kids (at practice) today we’re going to make mistakes over these next few games but we have to use them as hard practice to get our systems right for the playoffs.”