Wranglers corral Stampeders
Riley Mathies of the Blackfalds Wranglers is pushed into Ponoka Stampeders goaltender Taylor McLaughlin during Tuesday night Heritage Junior Hockey League action. The Wranglers won the game 4-2, in what could be a preview of the upcoming HJHL playoffs. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)
The Blackfalds Wranglers corralled the Ponoka Stampeders 4-2 on Tuesday in what could very well be a first round Heritage Junior Hockey League playoff match up.
Judging by the pace of the game at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena, however, neither team was going to wait until the post-season to pick up their intensity.
“That was kind of game one for us,” said Wranglers Head Coach Sean Neumeier. “We have the season series against them, something we can hang our hat on a bit going into the playoffs.
“It’s going to be a tough first round if we get them.”
For most of the first period, the teams were evenly matched until Wrangler Dylan Scheunert opened the scoring with 1:20 left.
In the second, Zane Bennett doubled their lead before Ponoka’s Austin Ancion slipped a puck past Blackfalds goaltender Lane Brann.
Less than five minutes later, however, Isaac Kingma, a Central Alberta Selects product, scored his first Junior B goal and the eventual game winner for the Wranglers.
Called up to cover for a few s players missing due to injury and suspension, the defenceman walked across the blueline and shot far side.
“It happened to go in so I was pretty happy about that,” Kingma said. “It’s pretty fun to come up, get affiliated and I’d do it again, for sure.”
Austin Wilson also scored for the Wranglers in the third period, while Nate Higgens added a second Stampeders goal with just over a minute left.
Brann was solid between the pipes, stopping all but two of 36 shots against.
Overall, Neumeier said he liked his team’s effort throughout the game, but heading down the final regular season stretch, wants his team to become more disciplined.
“We’re taking stupid penalties – the 10-minute misconducts are driving me nuts. The minute we get things going we shoot ourselves in the foot,” he said.
“You could see it tonight when we were up 3-1. That could’ve been it. We were starting to feel it and then we took a stupid penalty. If we don’t do that, I don’t think the game’s this close.”
The team will look to still fight for second seed in the playoffs, but they’d have to be perfect in the final set of games to overcome the Airdrie Thunder who currently sit second behind the Red Deer Vipers.
The Wranglers play on the road Friday night against the Mountainview Colts at 8 p.m. Next Tuesday, Feb. 6, they’ll host Airdrie at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena at 7:30 p.m.