Amarillo Wranglers are poised for playoffs heading into key stretch

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The Amarillo Wranglers have 51 points and are tied for second place in the North American Hockey League South Division. [Lauren Correa/ Press Pass Sports]
As the Amarillo Wranglers approach the final third of the North American League Hockey season, their playoff march starts this weekend in Corpus Christi against the IceRays.

Coming off a very successful weekend sweep against the Colorado Grit, the Wranglers are enjoying a three-game winning streak. With a record of 22-10-5-2 (51 points), Amarillo is currently tied with the El Paso Rhinos for second place in the NAHL South Division.

Under the guidance and direction of rookie head coach Ryan Anderson, the Wranglers are positioned better now than ever in their third season to make a strong playoff push.

The Schedule

The Wranglers have positioned themselves strongly so far through the season. Most prognosticators agree Amarillo was successful throughout the most challenging part of their schedule.

With 21 games remaining, six of those games (four at home, two away) will be against the El Paso Rhinos, who are currently tied with the Amarillo Wranglers in second place in the South Division. Amarillo has three games left against the reigning NAHL Robertson Cup Champions Oklahoma City Warriors, and two very important games with a very good Shreveport Mudbugs team.

The Wranglers also have six games remaining with the expansion team Colorado Grit. If the Wranglers continue with their consistent and blue-collar type approach to hockey, the Wranglers have a good chance of going deep into the playoffs this season. The 2024 NAHL Robertson Cup Championship Tournament will be held in Fogerty Arena in Blaine, Minn., from May 17-21.

The Team

With a strong core of returning veterans led by team captain and Army commit Ben Ivey (10 goals with 31 points), veteran leadership is alive and well within the Wranglers orbit. Not to be outdone, fraternal twin Jack Ivey (24 goals with 37 points) leads by example with an amazing display of quiet confidence, which only enhances the tandem of these twins and line mates. Jack McDonald (fresh off his Star of the week NAHL South) is having a career season with nine goals and a total of 34 points.

Running the infamous import line, Roman Zap (11 goals with 35 points) is taking advantage of his leadership role. Defenseman and assistant captain Kyle DeMarco, heads up the defensive crew with eight goals and 32 points. All five of these young student athletes are part of the strong returning core. All of them have played in well over 90 games in the North American Hockey League and are fast approaching the 100-game mark. This is also a major contribution to the success of the Amarillo Wranglers in their third season. Goalie Connor McDonough has 18 wins, which ranks him second and all of the NAHL in victories. McDonough exploded onto the Amarillo hockey scene with an amazing nine victories in a row with four of those victories shut out. Connor McDonough has gone down in Amarillo hockey folklore as one of the most amazing stories in our hockey history.

Top Prospects

The NAHL Top Prospects Tournament will be held at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township, Penn. This incredible facility is used by the Pittsburgh Penguins as a practice rink and rehabilitation facility. The tournament hosts players and college/NHA scouts throughout the country as to showcase these young student athletes’ hockey proclivities. The Amarillo Wranglers will be represented by the following – Goalie Connor McDonough (Team Select Silver); Defenseman Kyle DeMarco (Team South); Forward Roman Zap (Team South); Forward Topi Puikkonen (Team South).

First year head coach Ryan Anderson was honored and named assistant coach to the NAHL Select Gold Team in this tournament. Anderson’s first year with the Wranglers has been nothing short of remarkable, coming in from a Tier 3 Junior League program to take a team with very high expectations. Up to this point in the season, Anderson has delivered. The top prospects tournaments will be held in Pittsburgh, Penn., on February 5-6 and can be seen on on NAHLtv.

Editor’s Note

Please listen for Tommy Tee‘s weekly recap of the Amarillo Wranglers hockey on the “Drive at Five” with Lance Lahnert every Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m. exclusively on the Panhandle Sports Star 102.9 FM

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