The 100 Mile House Wranglers beat out the Princeton Posse 5-4 Friday for their first home win of the season.
It was a tense, nail-biter of a game, as the Posse sought to outmuscle and outscore the Wranglers. But while the Wranglers took a few costly penalties throughout the night, they were able to keep the pressure on, much to the pride of head coach Dale Hladun.
“I was pretty proud of the kids considering we were shorthanded going in there with six regulars out, so we only dressed 18 kids. Yet the addition of Trevor Sanderson and Nathan Bohmer really helped us out because they’re pretty dynamic players,” Hladun said. “It also didn’t hurt to have Casey Thomson be his stud self again.”
The home team set the scene early in the first period with a quick goal by Jace Myers, sparking a roar of approval from the Wrangler Nation. This goal was followed minutes later by another goal as Bohmer, later named player of the game, slipped the puck past the Posse’s goalie. The Wrangler’s mascot Sunrise Sam, cheered the team on by banging his drum in the stands.
Halfway through the period, however, the Princeton players rallied, and in the last seconds of a power play, Gavin McIntosh slipped the puck past Casey Thomson into the Wranglers’ net. Capitalizing on the momentum, Anmol Garcha tied the game a few minutes later. The Wranglers powered back, with Sanderson bringing the score up to 3-2 on a power play.
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Hladun said that his players have been workshopping deploying five forwards onto the ice during a power play which he felt paid off during Friday’s game. On the other hand, he said they were issued two penalties for too many players on the ice during line changes that could have been avoided. Organizing them better should help avoid such penalties in the future, Hladun said.
The second period was more physical, with both teams fighting over the puck and body checking one another into the boards. During the second half of the period, Princeton got the measure of the Wranglers’ defence, with the Posses’ Jaden Fodchuk once again tying the game and Garcha tipping them into the lead with seconds to go in the period.
As soon as the skates hit the ice in the third period, the Wranglers came back at the Posse with a vengeance. The Wranglers’ Rory McNabb tied the score up at four early on setting up a tense fight for the win.
With just six minutes to go, Garrett Rasmussen scored, putting the Wranglers ahead by one point, much to the elation of the crowd and his team. For the rest of the game, they held the Posse off, even after the Wranglers’ aggressive forward Tanner Hooper was ejected from the game for misconduct stemming from a headshot.
“If the penalties are of elbowing or charging, that tells me it’s a penalty of battle. If it’s a misconduct penalty that’s mental,” Hladun said, remarking he’d rather tame a tiger than paint stripes on a pussy cat.
In a last-ditch attempt to tie the game and force overtime play, the Posse pulled their goalie in the last minute for an extra player on the ice but were unable to pull off another goal. As the buzzer blew the Wranglers flooded out onto the rink for a group hug, received a standing ovation.
“That was definitely a big win for the team and the kids are on cloud nine and feeling pretty good, they’re ready to win a lot more,” Hladun said. “As I’ve said in the past, our teams tend to be sloppy and underachieving early before becoming a force. This year I think we’re already getting there sooner than usual so I’m really excited about what’s going on.”
The Wranglers’ are going into back to back games this weekend travelling to Chase on Friday and hosting Kelowna on Saturday.