Blackfalds Wranglers roped in shootout

Zachary Zaparniuk of the Blackfalds Wranglers battles for the puck with Riese Nevil of the Coaldale Copperheads during Sunday afternoon Heritage Junior Hockey League action at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena. The Wranglers lost 5-4 in the shootout. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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For the first time since before the 2012-13 season, the Blackfalds Wranglers came out of their first two games of the Heritage Junior Hockey League season without a single win.

On Friday, the Wranglers were stomped 7-2 by the Airdrie Techmation Thunder on the road where they mustered just 16 shots to their opponents 54.

While their effort was better during their home opener Sunday at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena, they came up short against the Coaldale Copperheads, falling 5-4 in the shootout.

“I don’t know if the opening ceremonies had them hyped up – everything was kind of confusing when the video wouldn’t go – but we just didn’t look like we were with it until the third period,” said Coach Brian Lenz.

At first it looked like the Wranglers would dominate the game, with Austin Lawson scoring just 1:21 into the game. However, after that, the Copperheads controlled much of the play, using the stretch pass to get in behind the Wranglers defence. They tied the game, then took a 2-1 lead to head into the second.

“They caught us – (the stretch pass) is one of their major plays and they made it work. That was probably the difference when it comes right down to it,” said Lenz. “We played pretty solid defence, but it’s tough when they use that stretch pass to watch them all the time.”

The Copperheads struck twice more in the second before the Wranglers responded late on a goal by Spencer Otto to cut their opponents lead to two goals.

The goal proved to swing momentum in their favour, and just five minutes into the third, Bronson Spearing and Braden Olsen scored 60 seconds apart to tie the game. However, while they had their chances, they ran out of time to take over a lead.

The extra frame wouldn’t be enough to decide a winner, and ultimately, Ty Abbott would secure the shootout victory for the Copperheads.

“Lane (Brann) had a little trouble in the shootout – he stopped two of them and had a couple that went through him, but I’m impressed with the way we played in the third period,” said Lenz. “If we had’ve played like we did in the third period, we wouldn’t have been in the shootout.

“We have to play three periods of hockey and I think we’ll be OK.”

The Wranglers next opportunity to make a mark in the win column will come on the road Friday, Oct. 5 against the Okotoks Bisons. They’ll return home Sunday, Oct. 7 to face the Strathmore Wheatland Kings at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena. Puck drop is at 3:30 p.m.