The Blackfalds Wranglers are finally on the upswing.
On Sunday, the team corralled their Ponoka Stampeder opponents 6-1 at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena, earning their second straight win after a crushing 8-2 loss to the Airdrie Techmation Thunder and a close 7-6 overtime defeat against Red Deer two weeks ago.
The win improved their Heritage Junior Hockey League record to 6-8-5 on the season.
“We’re coming around, I think,” said Wranglers Coach Brian Lenz. “We played really well in the first period. After that we tapered off a bit – the third we looked like our old selves again, but when you’re up like that, you kind of expect it.”
Perhaps it was a pre-game announcement the Wranglers successfully bid on the Jr. B Provincials, or momentum from last week’s win against Stetter, but the team jumped out of the gate quickly. Zachary Zaperniuk scored 1:50 into the period on the man advantage after Stamp Odin Obray got called for interference.
They dominated the majority of the opening frame, stalling the Stamps from breaking out of their zone – allowing just one shot on net during the first half of the opening frame. It paid off as Braden Olsen scored midway through the period, followed by Taite Opdendries going top shelf to give the Wranglers a 3-0 lead that would take them into the second period.
In the first half of the second period, the Wranglers continued to hold possession. McKoy Kahlert sent a bomb from the blueline to score at the midway mark, and Beaudon Rider added another, chipping the puck over the glove of Stampeder netminder Keenan Starkell three and a half minutes later.
It wasn’t until the third period that the Wranglers saw some adversity, with Stamp Isaiah Deschamps-Cross cutting the Wrangler lead to four goals after beating Maxim Currie blocker-side.
Fortunately, with a comfortable lead, it didn’t dampen their spirit, and at 10:27, Olsen scored his second of the game on the power play, and they’d finish the game with a 6-1 victory.
The Wranglers now hit the road for four straight games, including three games in three nights this weekend – Lomond on Friday Dec. 7, Coaldale Dec. 8, and Medicine Hat Dec. 9.
It’s during that stretch the team will test a new goaltender between the pipes in Danyon Lorenz, who has played five games with the Senior AAA Innisfail Eagles.
“He’s really good, so that should help us against the tougher teams,” said Lenz. “He’s an 18 year-old kid…some of the Dub (WHL) teams were after him, and a couple Junior A teams.”
Overall, he says the team just needs to continue to skate and pass the puck the way they did in the first period against Ponoka.
“If we play like that, we can compete with anyone in the league,” he said.
Next weekend, they’ll play the Mountainview Colts on the road in Didsbury before finally returning home to host the Okotoks Bisons on Dec. 16 at 3:30 p.m.
They’ll play just twice more before the Christmas break, including Saturday Dec. 22 against the Red Deer Vipers at the Servus Arena in Red Deer, and the Stampeders on Sunday, Dec. 23 at home.
Just four penalties were called during the entire game, and just one against the Wranglers McKoy Kahlert for roughing, which was evened out by Stamp Wade Lightburn getting the same penalty…The Wranglers were 2-for-2 on the power play, while the Stamps didn’t get a power play at all….Shots on goal were 39-28.