The Blackfalds Senior AA Wranglers struggled with discipline in their first North Central Hockey League game in Blackfalds at the Multi-plex Arena.
On Sunday, the Wranglers fell 4-1 to the Westlock Warriors, and while Head Coach Damon Dreeshen said they showed improvement from their opening weekend, he admitted penalties were an issue.
“We had a better powerplay this week than we did last weekend. They were moving the puck better, but ran into a lot of penalty trouble, which is frustrating,” he said. “Anytime you’re killing penalties all game it doesn’t give you a very good chance.”
Ironically, the opening goal of the game was scored shorthanded over midway through the first period by Warriors’ captain Mike Ivey. Wranglers netminder Adam Barko missed on the poke-check, and Ivey dragged the puck to the left side of the net to put his team up 1-0.
Three and a half minutes later, Scott Ivey doubled up, scoring from the blueline through traffic.
In the second, there would be no scoring, but a revolving door on the penalty box, starting 34 seconds into the period, and both teams would spend the majority of the frame putting their special teams to work. The Wranglers would kill two penalties, but only had own power play opportunity they weren’t able to capitalize on.
Halfway though the third, Mike Ivey would strike again, followed shortly by teammate Ryan Nelles beating Barko on a scramble play in front of the net.
While Wrangler Mathew Johannson would finally break Warriors’ goaltender Jordan Brand’s shutout on the man advantage with 2:21 left to play, there wouldn’t be enough time for the home team to mount a comeback.
Shots were 46-33 in favour of the Warriors.
“On the plus side, we had over 30 shots and we were killing for a lot. If we can clean that up and keep working away – the guys are pretty dedicated and working hard – we’ll turn things around,” Dreeshen said. “The puck’s got to start going in the net, too. When you’re getting shots and nothing’s going in, that’s hard. We feel a little snakebit right now, but once we can get some guys putting the puck in the net, things will start falling into place.”
The Wranglers will play next Sunday, Oct. 27 against the NCHL’s newest team, the Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs, in Bentley. Puck drop is at 2 p.m.
Their next game in Blackfalds won’t be until Sunday, Nov. 24 when they’ll face Bonnyville at 3:30 p.m.