The Wranglers were unable to gain ground after the first-period blitz against Revelstoke, which saw the opponent score three goals in six shots.
“I’d rather lose a game and learn rather than blow somebody out and not know our blisters,” said general manager and head coach Dale Hladun.
As expected, the game was a little scrappy, with plenty of time spent in the box by both teams including game misconducts handed out to both teams, including one Hladun deems less than fair.
“The goaltender for Revelstoke is notoriously bad for diving and through 17 games played he’s drawn more than 10 goalie interference penalties because he likes to roll out and then if he gets close to a guy, he’ll stick his leg out and flop,” said the coach. “I’ve tried, as well as other coaches, explain to the league the pattern about the goaltender in Revelstoke doing this and four kids have been suspended because of double minors on their goalie with all of his antics.”
Forward Frazer Dodd is one of those players who has been suspended, after being called for goaltender interference and game misconduct penalties in the last eight minutes of the game. Dodd will miss the game against Chase Heat on Dec. 6.
The constant chirping of opponents has concerned Hladun, who said he certainly enjoys the passion the guys display but it takes away the focus on their roles on the ice.
The Revelstoke Grizzlies are now sitting on top of the Doug Birks division thanks to their first-period sweep but Hladun figures his boys responded well to the rout after only allowing one goal in the next two periods and adding two of their own, courtesy of Rob Raju and Darian Long.
Both goals came from the power play, an aspect of their game they have been working on and will continue to tweak. Raju was named the first star of the game, assisting on Long’s goal for a two-point game and being one of the most important players on the roster.
“He’s an interchangeable package, he can go on the offensive but can kill penalties and he can also play defence,” said the coach. “I mean, he’s got such a high compete level during games and a will to win that I swear if I said “Raj, put on the pads on, you’re playing goalie in the third period,” he would.”
Nolan Parr was also a stand-out for the coach. The usual forward played on the back end during the Revelstoke game due to a shortage of defencemen due to suspension and injury (Kevin Fillier dislocated his finger during the game). Rob Raju will likely be playing on the backend against Chase on Dec. 6 as well.
Hladun said the team will be looking to improve their forecheck structure in the neutral and offensive zones heading into the Chase game and reading plays to eliminate passing options, enabling opponents breaking out and allowing the Wranglers to force turnovers and capitalize on them.
The team also made some roster changes, adding former fan-favourite James Gordon. Hladun described the forward as an exciting player but was sure he’d be rusty, after arriving back in 100 Mile from touring the world and catching a plane back from Thailand on Dec. 5. Gordon scored 38 points in 40 games for the Wranglers last season but might not get his chance to get back on the ice until later this month.
Todd Bredo was also released so he could focus on being a full-time student in Kelowna.
Their next game against Revelstoke will be on Dec. 16 at home where the team invites attendees to throw new and “gently-used” teddy bears, mitts and gloves onto the ice. With it being against the Grizzlies, you can determine if it counts as a little swipe or not. The collected teddy bears will be given to the local hospital, Fisher Place, the food bank and the RCMP Victim Services.