The Blackfalds Wranglers had control over the herd, riding to a 4-1 victory over the Mountainvew Colts Tuesday evening.
The win was their first of 2019, as well as their first since early December when they strung together two wins against Ponoka and Lomond.
“It was an effort from everybody. We just had 20 guys that gave us everything they had and that’s the difference between winning and losing in this league,” said Wranglers Coach Brian Lenz.
“It’s about time.”
Four minutes into the opening period, Auston Lawson – fresh off a Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) All Star appearance with teammate Taite Opdendries – found the back of the net to put the Wranglers up 1-0.
Despite maintaining possession for much of the period – outshooting their opponents 15-7 – the Wranglers wouldn’t strike again until the 15-minute mark when Braidon Westin scored shorthanded. The Colts’ Reed Engman managed to break free and get one back about three minutes later, but it would be Mountainview’s only goal of the game.
There wouldn’t be any scoring again until late in the third period when Lawson scored his second of the game.
Dylan Scheunert would add an empty net goal to secure the 4-1 victory.
“It’s having that extra drive. You need fire in your gut and we had it tonight,” said Lenz. “We were a bit lacking in the second period, but in the third period we took over again.
“Everyone’s been out to practice the last little while – I think that’s the difference. When you don’t practice, you don’t win and we’ve been trying to convince them of that, so the last two practices we’ve had everyone out and hopefully from here we can turn it around.”
The win bumps the Wranglers up to 8-15-5 on the season and fifth in the HJHL’s north division – nine points back of fourth-placed Stettler with a game in hand.
They’ll look to narrow the gap further, and get one back against the Cochrane Generals this Sunday, Jan. 13 at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena at 3:30 p.m.
The Wranglers will also play Tuesday, Jan. 15 against the Three Hills Thrashers at 7:30 p.m. at home.
Beyond that, it’s just working towards getting better for 2019-20 season when they’ll host Junior B Provincials.
Part of their struggles this year have come from being one of the youngest teams in the league, with just over a handful of 20-21 year olds, while the rest of the players are 17,18,and 19. One of their biggest areas to improve in remains passing, which Lenz believes will come with time and experience.
“When you watch the better teams – the older teams – in our league, they pass the puck better. We didn’t do bad tonight, but we still missed some of those easy passes,” he said.
“We’ll be better next year, guaranteed.”