Coach Dale Hladun took the rough ride in stride.
The 100 Mile House Wranglers lost 3-1 to the Sicamous Eagles on Oct. 11 and 7-5 to the Princeton Posse on Oct. 10.
But the 0-2 weekend wasn’t all bad, and it’s early, the coach notes. He saw some good things the team can build from.
“I’m not happy with two losses, but I do think the learning curve is getting better,” says Hladun. “We’re within our first 10 games of the year. We still have 43 games left. Every game is developing.”
Goalie Quinn Ferris started both games for 100 Mile House, with starter Kristian Stead out of town backing up the Merritt Centennials of the British Columbia Hockey League.
Hladun expects Stead back this weekend. The Wranglers (4-5) face the Nelson Leafs (7-2-2) at the South Cariboo Rec. Centre on Oct. 17. Then the club plays the Chase Heat (3-5-1-2) at a neutral site in Quesnel on Oct. 18 before returning to 100 Mile to host the Heat on Oct. 19.
Ferris, a 17-year-old rookie out of Prince George, made 20 saves on 23 shots in the loss to Sicamous (6-6). Ferris struggled some against Princeton (5-3-1-2) the night before, and the coach says he settled in better against the Eagles.
“He has to face the fire no matter what,” Hladun says. “He’s young. He’s got to learn too.”
The Wranglers fired 34 shots at Eagles goalie Olivier Charest, but only Austin Turner (from Jayden Syrota and Brett Harris) got one past him on the power play, tying the game 1-1 in the second period before Sicamous scored twice more to seal the victory on home ice.
“I thought we did everything right but win,” says Hladun. “We outplayed them. I thought our power play was moving the puck well. We just didn’t score.”
Forward Lane van de Wetering, last season’s most sportsmanlike player in the Doug Birks Division in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, was out of the lineup serving a one game suspension he earned with two misconduct penalties against Princeton.
That game on Oct. 10 against the Posse was a heated one and some of the Wranglers were at times visibly frustrated on the ice.
“It’s a lesson we need to learn,” the coach explains. “You can’t start being distracted on things you can’t control – whether it’s a ref’s call or an opponent got away with a slash. If you’re going to chase those kinds of things around, it affects you.”
The Wranglers were down 5-1, with a goal by Turner (from Devan Suidy and Nick Headrick), heading into the final period. They nearly came back to tie, getting as close as 6-5, before Princeton found the empty net.
In a seven minute span, Headrick (from Syrota and Suidy), Michael Lynch (from Syrota and Brady Ward), Brett Harris (from Syrota), and Turner (from Syrota and Stephen Egan) scored for 100 Mile House in the third period.
“We had a little adversity there,” says Hladun, who coached Princeton for nine seasons before coaching in Fernie last year and taking the reins behind the Wranglers’ bench. “The guys seemed to get more wound up with the officiating and wound up with little stuff behind the play as opposed to playing hockey. I think once they addressed that and got in the zone a bit, you saw we put in a pretty good effort.”