Wranglers regain scoring prowess
Ryan Chambers celebrates a Khale Skinner goal with his Blackfalds Wranglers teammates during HJHL action at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena Tuesday night. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)
After losing four straight games and struggling to find the back of the net, the Blackfalds Wranglers finally found their scoring touch.
On Sunday, they dominated the Medicine Hat Cubs 10-3, and proved their scoring prowess is back - at least for now - Tuesday night as they defeated the Three Hills Thrashers 9-3 at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena.
A total of 19 goals in two games isn’t something Wranglers Head Coach Sean Neumeier was going to complain about.
“The first three we lost there, we weren’t scoring. We knew it was a matter of time and finally the flood gates opened,” he said. ““It’s nice. We needed to get our confidence back up.”
The opening 20 minutes was fairly quiet, both offensively and penalty-wise, but the Wranglers had the edge going into the second period after a shorthanded Tyler Bell goal in latter half.
The middle frame was where they pulled away from their Three Hills opponents.
Austin Lawson scored his first goal as a Wrangler 6:22 into the period. Four and a half minutes later, Bell got his second goal of the game and Landon Siegle found the mesh shortly after.
Michael Lougheed finally responded for the Thrashers, but it was a spark the Wranglers quickly put out, with call-up Khale Skinner scoring his first Heritage Junior Hockey League goal less than a minute later, and 35 seconds after that Siegle scored his second. Ryan Chambers also chipped in during the final minutes of the period to give his team a 7-1 lead.
The bleeding for the Thrashers didn’t stop there. Siegle made no mistake on a breakaway 7:40 into the third period for a hat trick, and Chambers scored his second of the game two minutes later.
Only then did they let up offensively to allow Lougheed to score two more goals for the Thrashers for a hat trick of his own.
When asked what the team changed to finally snap their losing streak, Neumeier said it was mostly confidence and momentum.
“It’s just confidence, I think. Once we get that one (goal), we go,” he said. “we’re a momentum team, and we weren’t getting that momentum when we were losing and now we are.
“It wasn’t our best effort, but the result was good.”
The game saw a few new faces on the roster, including goaltender Steven Arthur who was called up from the West Central Midget Tigers. Arthur, who has backed up Rylan Bardick for several games, made his first HJHL start and made 16 saves in the win.
Skinner, who was called up from the same team, also made his HJHL debut, with one goal and two assists.
“I thought they played well. They looked pretty good,” said Neumeier. “That’s the future of the Wranglers coming up.”
The team doesn’t hit the ice for a game again until Jan. 6 when they play the Red Deer Vipers at the Collicutt Centre.
Sitting third in the standings - seven points behind Red Deer and four points behind Airdrie - the Wranglers believe they still have an opportunity to earn a first-round playoff bye.
“We’re still in the hunt for the top two spots. It’s in our sights,” Neumeier said. “We control our own destiny.”
Their next home game is Tuesday, Jan. 9 when they take on the Ponoka Stampeders at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena. Puck drop if 7:30 p.m.