Blackfalds Senior AA Wranglers open North Central Hockey League season with two losses

Kyran Karol of the Blackfalds Senior AA Wranglers battles with Ryan Terpsma of the Devon Barons during North Central Hockey League action at the Bentley Arena on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. The Wranglers fell 6-2 to the Barons. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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The Blackfalds Senior AA Wranglers are now 0-2 in the North Central Hockey League (NCHL) after a rough opening weekend.

After dropping a tough 9-3 loss to the Red Deer Rustlers on the road Saturday, they fell 6-2 to the Devon Barons in their home opener at the Bentley Arena Sunday.

“We’re coming off a back-to-back against Red Deer and that was our first game of the season. They’re a pretty tough team so we were pretty beat up tonight. We had a lot of injuries, guys were pretty wore out,” said Wranglers Head Coach Damon Dreeshen.

“This is a tough loss – this is a team we figured would be a good measuring stick for where we want to get to. I think we’re going to get there, but we’re not there quite yet. It’s not the start of the season we were hoping for but we got a lot of positives we can pull out of the weekend, too.”

Nate Higgins of the Blackfalds Wranglers tries to evade the defence of Terix Fischer-Kobes of the Devon Barons during NCHL action at the Bentley Arena on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. The Wranglers fell 6-2 to the Barons.

The Barons opened the scoring towards the end of the first period on a goal by Adam Kelly, and less than a minute later Micheal Cardinal added a second.

The Wranglers’ Teagan Kooman,however, got one back on the powerplay with 2:24 left in the period.

While the Barons edged the Wranglers in possession – outshooting the home team 35-28 overall – the 2-1 score would remain until the third.

It wouldn’t take long into the final frame, however, for the Barons to put the game away.

Aaron Fedyk scored 1:23 into the period. Five minutes later Cardinal would score his second of the game to put the Barons up 4-1.

Finally, midway through the period, a solid second effort from Nate Higgins in front of the Barons net would pay and the Wranglers cut the lead in half. However, it would be their last goal, and the Barons would add two more. Dylan Wallace would catch Wrangler goaltender Cody Nicolay diving for the puck and chip it overtop of him, while their sixth would come from the top of the circle with the man advantage with 5:18 left in the period.

Eric Moltzahn of the Blackfalds Senior AA Wranglers chips a puck over his sprawling Devon Barons opponent during North Central Hockey League action at the Bentley Arena on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. The Wranglers fell 6-2 to the Barons. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

“We didn’t get any puck luck the game before (against Red Deer) and tonight the guys showed a pretty gutsy effort for the first two periods, so we’re going to focus on that kind of stuff and fill in the gaps moving forward,” he said. “We’ve got to start moving the puck better, we definitely have got to improve on the powerplay. We know the things that are weak.

“We’re not going to throw in the towel on the season yet. We’re just going to get back to practice and back to work.”

The Blackfalds Senior AA Wranglers are taking over the name and jersey style of the now former Blackfalds Junior B Wranglers, who moved to Sylvan Lake this season in anticipation of an Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) moving into the community.  The Senior AA team will split its home games between the Bentley Arena, and the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena en route to securing full time ice in the community once the arena’s expansion project is completed.

Their first game in Blackfalds will be Oct. 20.

“We’re excited for that,” Dreeshen said. “This team came together very quickly in a couple of months, so we’re still working out some kinks and very excited to be playing our first game in Blackfalds. Hopefully we can get some good support there.”

Puck drop is at 3:30 p.m.

Season schedule:

  • Oct. 20 vs. Westlock, Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena, 3:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 27 vs. Fort Saskatchewan at Bentley Arena, 2 p.m.
  • Nov. 2 @ Morinville
  • Nov. 3 vs. Eckville (Lacombe) at Bentley Arena, 2:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 9 @ Fort Saskatchewan
  • Nov. 23 @ Westlock
  • Nov. 24 vs. Bonnyville at Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena 3:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 30 @ Daysland
  • Dec. 13 @ Devon
  • Dec. 15 vs. Morinville at Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena, 3:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 21 @ Eckville (Lacombe) at the Gary Moe Auto Group Sportsplex
  • Jan. 4 @ Bonnyville
  • Jan. 12 vs. Daysland at Bentley Arena, 2:30 p.m.
  • Jan. 19 vs. Red Deer at Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena, 3:30 p.m.

abarrett@postmedia.com

Justin Moltzahn of the Blackfalds Senior AA Wranglers controls the puck along the boards while pursued by Brandon Powlik of the Devon Barons during North Central Hockey League action at the Bentley Arena on Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. The Wranglers fell 6-2 to the Barons. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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