Two new Wranglers got off to hot starts in recent back-to-back wins for the local Junior B hockey club.
Forward Shane Doherty scored one and assisted on another while earning Player of the Game honours in 100 Mile House’s 3-0 shutout over the Osoyoos Coyotes at the South Cariboo Rec. Centre on Jan. 24.
On Jan. 25, goalie Magnus Viberg stopped 38 of 41 shots on the road in a 5-3 win over the Sicamous Eagles.
Unfortunately, Doherty, who notched two more assists in Sicamous, suffered a season-ending concussion in only his second game as a Wrangler.
The likelihood of his return to the lineup this season is “remote,” says coach/general manager Doug Rogers, adding Rick Mack, a midget player from Quesnel who dressed for 100 Mile House in Sicamous, played well in his first game in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and will likely see more action before the season is over.
The 3-0 win against the Coyotes was “one of our best games of the year,” Rogers says. “[Osoyoos is] a very quick and very skilled team and I thought our players were outstanding with their effort. Our puck management was very good and we received solid goaltending.
“It was a big game for Kenny Nordstrom and Brad Williams, who were either released or traded by Osoyoos earlier in the year. I thought both were exceptional on this night.”
Doherty plowed into the net behind the puck to open up scoring in that game. Donovan Law and Williams assisted on the play.
In the second frame, it was Law finding the back of the net and Doherty and Low assisting.
Cole Zimmerman notched goal No. 3 for 100 Mile House with assists by Stephen Egan and Robert Orrey.
Goalie Kristian Stead stopped 27 shots for his second shutout of the season.
Midway through the second in Sicamous, the Wranglers were up 4-1. According to Rogers, Sicamous is also banged-up with injuries.
“Our first half of the game was very good…. We then started to take shortcuts and go outside of how we normally play and it cost us with Sicamous getting two quick goals. We battled hard in the third to get the momentum back and we got some very good goaltending from Magnus.”
Law got on the board first in that one, with assists by Williams and Doherty. Sicamous answered back, but 100 Mile House scored the next three – Law from Williams and Doherty; Michael Lynch from Williams and Jayden Syrota; and Tyson Levesque from Lane van de Wetering and Lynch. Sicamous added two more and 100 Mile House added one more, R. Orrey from Zimmerman and Egan.
Viberg, from Calgary, played for the Creston Valley Thundercats this season. The 18-year-old goaltender says it’s been a good adjustment on the Wranglers’ roster.
“It’s a new opportunity, which I needed. We all have a lot of respect for Doug and what he’s doing.
“He’s definitely put a good team together. I think we can do some good things.”
Viberg adds the coaches have also put together a good game plan, something the players need to execute consistently.
“As long we stay tight in our defensive zone, the goals will come.”
Mathieu Longhurst and Brady Ward are day-to-day with injuries and game time decisions Jan. 31 when the Wranglers host the Princeton Posse, while Kevin Raimundo is out with a broken fibula for approximately six weeks.
Jordan Low is not expected to be in the lineup for the Wranglers this weekend. Low was called up to the Prince George Spruce Kings, a Junior A club, last weekend and will remain with them this week.
Law is also practising with Prince George this week.
Luke Santerno, Levesque and Stead were called up to the Merritt Centennials of the British Columbia Hockey League for a game against the Trail Smoke Eaters on Jan. 28. Levesque and Santerno will be game time decisions.
All but Low are anticipated back for this weekend’s games and should be in the Wranglers’ lineup, Rogers says.
100 Mile House travels to Kelowna on Feb. 1 to meet the Chiefs. The Wranglers visit Sicamous, opponents in the Doug Birks Division, again on Feb. 2.
Kamloops, with 71 points, leads that division.
The Wranglers, in second, clinched a playoff spot last week, and with 44 games played, have 47 points.
The Chase Heat have also clinched a playoff spot. Chase has 43 games played and 42 points.
Sicamous is in fourth with 42 games played and 38 points.
Revelstoke is fifth with 20 points in 43 games.
The KIJHL playoff picture will see the No. 1 division seed play the No. 4 and No. 2 play No. 3 in a seven-game series.