The 100 Mile House Wranglers of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) have swept Chase Heat in the first series of the 2017-18 playoffs, continuing their good form after finishing the regular season with winning six of their last ten games.
“We’re a good team and I think teams know they are going to get their hands full. Maybe it’s a surprise that we swept Chase in four because Chase is a pretty strong team but things just weren’t working for them in this series and we didn’t allow them to work for it,” said head coach Dale Hladun. “The thing about Chase is they won a lot of games because of their power play and if you’re only going to have one dimension to your game and you rely fully on the playoffs and not a lot of calls are being called you need to find a new angle.”
Game four ended with a 6-3 victory for the Wranglers with Garrett Hilton getting a hat-trick and an assist. Julien Dewey also had four-point night, scoring two goals. Quin Garrison scored the remaining goal.
“We played well. I thought we jumped up early with the three-nothing lead but they were getting chippy. They took a lot of silly penalties early and it gave us a chance to get some opportunities but it was kind of weird. Once they get rid of the guys quitting on them they were actually dangerous and they were all over us and they were buzzing. If it wasn’t for Sevy [Jacob Severson] making some spectacular saves, they might have clawed their way back in” said Hladun.
The Wranglers took a demanding lead in their first playoff round bout, beating the Chase Heat in the latter’s home turf in the first two games before winning the last two at home. The four games were within five days of each other.
The first game went 5-3 in the Wrangler’s favour, with defenceman Joel Patsey putting in a man of the match performance, scoring a goal and two assists. Jackson Miller and Justin Bond also had multi-point games, scoring a goal and an assist each. Quin Garrison and James Gordon were the other goal scorers.
Patsey continued his streak in the next game, scoring a goal and an assist in a 4-3 overtime win in the second battle on Feb. 24. Julien Dewey was the visiting side’s star of the night though. The three other goals were scored by Kolby Page. Rob Raju and Cameron Lockard.
Jakob Severson was behind the pipes in both games, facing up to 37 shots in the first game and 43 in the second, only letting in six goals in total. Severson played all four games in the playoffs, overshadowing the performances of former Wrangler, Jared Breitkreuz and Connor Webb. Both played two games each in the series.
“He’s showing why he wants to win a title, he’s brought his ‘A’ game and goaltending is the main reason any team has success,” said Hladun.
Winning 5-2 in game three, Hladun had nothing but plaudits for the depth of his team and also mentioning the discipline, something the Wranglers have been struggling with, has been better. Chase had one of the strongest power plays league-wide (22.58 per cent during the regular season) but the Wranglers were able to contain them through aggressive forechecking.
The five goals were scored by Lockard, Hilton, Bond, Miller and Kolby Page.
Next up is either division winners Revelstoke Grizzlies or Kamloops Storm. Revelstoke is currently winning the series 3-1. Game five of that series is on March 1. Either way, the next Wranglers series won’t start until March 6, giving the players some needed rest.
“I’m really glad we did it in four, we’re starting to get some bumps and bruises. There were a couple of guys playing with some pain and these next few days they will certainly take off and start healing it up,” said Hladun.
The Wranglers will start the next series away again.