It’s a tight squeeze in the middle of the Doug Birks Division, where second and fourth place is currently separated by a single point.
The 100 Mile House Wranglers, which continue their Kootenay International Junior Hockey League campaign with a seriously battered lineup, are still right behind the Sicamous Eagles and Chase Heat, in fourth place, despite having lost their last three games, and only registering one of a possible six points. (Chase and Sicamous go head-to-head on Jan. 14, after press time.)
Coach Dale Hladun thought a 10-day layoff around Christmas would heal this team. It didn’t.
“It’s insane how injured we are,” he says, listing a few guys that are still out and a few more that are playing with injuries. “We’re still the walking wounded.”
A number of players got the day off at practice this week to rest and get healthy, before the Wranglers travel to Kamloops and Kelowna for games on Jan. 16 and Jan. 17, respectively.
The coach thinks playing through this type of adversity at this point of the season will build character for later on when the Wranglers make a final push into the postseason, when it really counts.
Because, after all, “it’s all practice to the playoffs,” Hladun reminds us.
“Our record is still strong. We’re still over .500. With the right win or two, we’re in second [place].”
100 Mile House met the Heat in Chase on Jan. 11. Quinn Ferris faced 39 shots in the 4-3 overtime loss. Tyler Garcia took a five-minute boarding penalty in overtime, so the Wranglers were shorthanded in extra time. Stephen Egan, Justin Bond and Jayden Syrota found the back of the net. Nick McCabe and Jaydon Gilding added assists.
The Castlegar Rebels stormed the South Cariboo Rec. Centre on Jan. 10 and toppled the Wranglers 5-2.
While the Wranglers managed a total of 35 shots, only a pair by forward Brett Harris got by Castlegar’s net-minder, Patrick Zubick. McCabe, Syrota and Justin Bond tallied assists.
The Sicamous Eagles downed 100 Mile House 6-2 on Jan. 9, which Hladun called “probably our flattest game we’ve played in some time”.
Garcia tallied two assists and was named home star for the Wranglers. Syrota and Michael Lynch found the back of the net. Tavis Roch got an assist.