2018-19 to be a rebuilding season for Wranglers

Ryan Chambers of the Blackfalds Wranglers tries to slip a puck past Airdrie Techmation Thunder goaltender C.J. Wedenig during Game 4 of the HJHL north division semifinal last year at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena. This year, the team expects to be in rebuild mode heading into the season which kicks off Sept. 9. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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It will be a year of change for the Heritage Junior Hockey League’s Blackfalds Wranglers.

After losing in the semifinals last year to the Airdrie Techmation Thunder, then losing their head coach and general manager, the team will have some new faces both on the bench and behind the scenes.

“We’re going to be in a bit of a rebuilding year,” said returning Assistant Coach Brian Lenz. “We’ve had quite a few guys leave us, but the boys had two skates in Lacombe, and there’s quite a bit of talent out there.”

About a dozen returning players are expected, with some leaving to play in Wetaskiwin as they’re hosting provincials this year, however training camp didn’t officially get underway until Wednesday night, so exact numbers of players were not known at the time of press.

What is known, however, is that Kurt Spady, former assistant general manager, and Barry Groves will share general manager duties as Jesse Cheetham has left the organization, while Devon Fitzpatrick will take over bench boss duties, replacing Sean Neumeier who left after five years as coach.

“He seems fairly enthused, but we’ll find out more Wednesday night as well,” said Lenz. “It’ll be an interesting year with all the new boys, but I think we’ll be fairly competitive. We usually are.”

The Wranglers have a history of winning and are known as one of the most accomplished junior organizations in the province. They’ve claimed provincial gold three times, and won both gold and bronze at the Keystone Cup, the highest test for Junior B teams.

It’s that winning culture, in part, that attracted Groves, who was previously with Ponoka, to the team.

“It was that winning mentality, and being very community minded,” Groves said. “We’re going to build a winning team again. We’re going to have a good, young group of guys this year.”

Having a young team is seen as possibly being a boon for the Wranglers’ success, if not this year, than in the coming years.

The Wranglers intend on applying to host provincials next season, and ideally, they’d like the team to peak at that tournament should they be selected as hosts. The decision will likely be known in January 2019.

Before then, however, the team will have to figure out its roster during training camp and a seven-game exhibition schedule.

Season schedule at a glance:

Exhibition

  • Sept. 9 @ Stettler Lightning
    Stettler Recreation Centre 3 p.m.
  • Sept. 11 vs. Stettler Lightning
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 7:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 14 @ Beaumont
    Beaumont Arena 8 p.m.
  • Sept. 16 vs. Beaumont
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 18 vs. Airdrie Thunder
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 7:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 28 @ Airdrie Thunder
    Rom Ebbesen Arena 8 p.m.
  • Sept. 30 vs. Coaldale Copperheads
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m.

Regular Season

  • Oct. 5 @ Okotoks Bisons
    Murray Arena 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 7 vs. Strathmore Wheatland Kings
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 12 @ High River Flyers
    Bob Snodgrass Recreation Complex 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 14 vs. Airdrie Thunder
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 19 @ Mountainview Colts
    Didsbury Recreation Complex 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 21 vs. Medicine Hat Cubs
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 24 @ Ponoka Stampeders
    Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex 7:45 p.m.
  • Oct. 28 vs. Lomond
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 2 @ Cochrane Generals
    Cochrane Arena 7 p.m.
  • Nov. 4 vs. High River Flyers
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 6 vs. Mountainview Colts
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 7:30 p.m.
  • Nov.13 @ Stettler Lightning
    Stettler Recreation Centre 8:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 15 @ Three Hills Thrashers
    Three Hills Centennial Arena 8 p.m.
  • Nov. 18 vs. Airdrie Thunder
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 24 @ Red Deer Vipers
    Servus Arena 8 p.m.
  • Nov. 27 vs. Stettler Lightning
    TBA 7:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 2 vs. Ponoka Stampeders
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m. *** to be confirmed
  • Dec. 7 @ Lomond
    TBA
  • Dec. 8 @ Coaldale Copperheads
    Coaldale Arena 8:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 9 @ Medicine Hat Cubs
    Kinplex 2:15 p.m.
  • Dec. 14 @ Mountainview Colts
    Didsbury Recreation Complex 8 p.m.
  • Dec. 16 vs. Okotoks Bisons
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 22 @ Red Deer Vipers
    Servus Arena 8 p.m.
  • Dec. 23 vs. Ponoka Stampeders
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 4 @ Airdrie Thunder
    Ron Ebbesen Arena 8 p.m.
  • Jan. 8 vs. Mountainview Colts
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 7:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 13 vs. Cochrane Generals
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 15 vs. Three Hills Thrashers
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 7:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 18 @ Strathmore Wheatland Kings
    Strathmore Arena 8 p.m.
  • Jan. 22 vs. Red Deer Vipers
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 7:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 25 @ Three Hills Thrashers
    Three Hills Centennial Arena 8 p.m.
  • Jan. 27 vs. Stettler Lightning
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 30 @ Ponoka Stampeders
    Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex 7:45 p.m.
  • Feb. 1 @ Stettler Lightning
    Stettler Recreation Centre 7:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 5 vs. Red Deer Vipers
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 7:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 10 vs. Three Hills Thrashers
    Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m.

 

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