For a second time this season, the Blackfalds Wranglers thrashed the Three Hills Thrashers in a heavily lopsided, high-scoring affair.
After falling to Stettler 6-2 on Sunday, the Wranglers bounced back at home Tuesday with a 15-1 victory over Three Hills, setting a new season scoring record for the team – previously 11-0 over the same Thrashers team.
While the two points were appreciated, the game was one the Wranglers used as preparation for their upcoming games against teams much higher in the standings.
“I wish we could score like that against some of the other teams, but it’s good practice for us,” said Coach Brian Lenz. “We moved the puck, especially in the last half of the game.”
Given the Thrashers are dead-last in the Heritage Junior Hockey League standings and have just one win in 30 games played so far this season, however, there was some difficulty in getting the Wranglers going.
It took seven minutes for Braidon Westin to open the scoring for Blackfalds. Austin Lawson added a second goal nearly two minutes later, but then scoring quieted until the end of the period when Westin scored his second of the game. The Thrashers’ Riley McKain even managed to steal a goal back not long after to cut the Wrangler lead to 3-1 heading into the second.
It wasn’t until about the midway mark of the second that the team really started click, starting with a power play goal by Dylan Scheunert, who added his second of the game minutes later, chasing Thrasher goaltender Conner Dixon from the net in favour of Devon Carroll.
He wouldn’t have much better luck, as Austin Lightning found the back of the net. Zachary Zaparniuk added another goal, while Westin scored the last of the period to give himself a hat trick and his team an 8-1 lead.
The third saw even more pucks find the mesh behind Carroll, but less celebrating from the Wranglers as the game turned into a full-blown route.
Lightning struck for a second time just over a minute in, followed by a Taite Opdendries goal. Braden Olsen scored the Wranglers second power play goal of the game, before Westin scored his fourth. Olsen would add two more and Opdendries one before the final buzzer ended.
“We didn’t play well the first half of the game. We just couldn’t get going,” said Lenz. “But carrying bad habits into the next game isn’t good, so we (coaching staff) finally convinced them to get with it because we need those two points on Friday (against Strathmore).”
The big difference in the latter half of the game, he said, was their passing, which has been a weak point for the team all season.
“If we pass like we did in the last 15-20 minutes here, we’ll start beating some of the teams that are close to us, too,” he said.
As for their opponents, he said he hopes they’re better next season, but didn’t want to hold his own team back during the game, either.
“You almost feel sorry for them,” he said. “But what can you do? You can’t hold back – we have a tough game Friday so we have to be prepared for that.”
The Wranglers will face the Strathmore Wheatland Kings on the road Jan. 18 at 8 p.m.. The Wheatland Kings are 14-14-2 on the season, compared to the Wranglers 9-16-5 record. They’ll return home Tuesday, Jan. 22 to host the Red Deer Vipers, who are 22-6-1 on the season.
“If we could do this against Red Deer next Tuesday, that would be even better,” said Lenz.
Puck drop will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena.