The 100 Mile House Wranglers battled hard but were unable to secure a victory at their season-opening games.
The Wranglers lost 3-2 to the Creston Valley Thundercats on Friday before being blown out by the Sicamous Eagles on Sunday 6-2. It’s a result that head coach Dale Hladun said has made him a “grumpy coach.”
“There were highlights during the weekend I didn’t mind but being 0-2 in our opening weekend (isn’t good),” Hladun said. “We were in the penalty box, digging our own hole (Saturday). I don’t mind a team that’s physical and tough to play against but when the penalties are behind the play, too many men on the ice or misconducts, I get upset about that.”
Friday night’s season opener started out positively with several alumni Wranglers taking part in a ceremonial puck-dropping ceremony. What followed was an intense nail-biting game as the Wranglers battled the Thundercats for every inch of ice.
Several early penalties in the first period ultimately led to the Thundercats’ first goal. Wrangler goalie Ryder Gregga put up a spirited defence facing 15 shots on net in the first period alone, keeping his team in the fight.
“Ryder Gregga was a rockstar, he was fantastic in net,” Hladun said.
Emotions ran high in the second period when the Thundercats scored another goal after the referees’ whistle was blown. A brief fight broke out on the ice between the two teams, resulting in several penalties and misconducts.
At the end of the second period, rookie Wrangler Treyton Pacheco scored the team’s first goal of the season, electrifying the crowd. Hladun said he was really happy a hometown boy like Pacheco was able to score his first goal with the Wranglers in front of the Wrangler Nation.
The Thundercats pulled ahead again of the Wranglers in the third period but Wranglers captain Ty Smoluk answered their goal and tied the game up. It looked like the game was heading into overtime until Creston Valley, with three minutes left on the clock, scored the decisive goal. Despite pulling Gregga in the final minute the Wranglers were unable to even the score.
While Hladun said his team deserved several of the penalties they got, others were given out in error. After Friday’s game, he received a call from the Department of Player Safety.
“There were some unique things that happened during the Friday night game I felt affected our outcome. There was a bit of a skirmish in the second period and the referee gave out some fighting penalties and we lost two defencemen for half a game,” Hladun said. “The Department of Player Safety contacted me (Saturday) and said they reviewed it and those weren’t really fighting majors, so they rescinded those penalties.”
Sunday night’s game started out positively, with Carter Boomer scoring the first goal of the night against the Eagles. Hladun said Sicamous was playing its third straight game and that his team should have had the edge. However, due to a failure of defense, the Eagles scored three goals in four minutes.
In the second period, the Eagles scored another three goals while Jett Ronning kept the Wranglers’ honour intact by scoring a second goal, the last of the game.
“Again, in that game, they had six power plays and we had one. Our discipline is out the window right now and let’s just say practice on Tuesday was very hard,” Hladun said. “We’re focusing this week on defense zone coverage, how to forecheck properly and how to play away from the puck.”
The Wranglers face the Eagles again Friday on the road before returning home to 100 Mile House to face the Chase Heat on Saturday. Hladun said this will be the last time until Oct. 20 the Wranglers will be on home ice so he encourages fans to come out and see them.