Amarillo Wranglers clinch playoff spot with weekend sweep of Colorado

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Jack Ivey of the Amarillo Wranglers skates up the ice during a game earlier this season. [Lauren Correa/ Press Pass Sports]
The Amarillo Wranglers snapped a recent funk by sweeping the Colorado Grit at the Ice Haus Arena in Greeley, Colo., this past weekend.

In dominating fashion, the Wranglers outscored the Grit 18-7 in this three-game weekend series. The Wranglers have beaten the first year Colorado Grit more times than they have victories in their own arena.

Amarillo won Friday’ game 5-1 and clinched a playoff berth as a result of this victory. Saturday saw a hockey matinee matchup and a scoring festival as Amarillo won this game 8-4. Sunday, in yet another matinee game, was icing on the cake as Amarillo emerged victorious 5-1.

The Wranglers are 29-18-1 with 66 points and currently sitting in fourth place in the North American Hockey League South Division, fighting for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with five games left to play in the regular season. The last five games of the season will be played at home in the Budweiser Bullpen.

The Amarillo Wranglers play host to the El Paso Rhinos this weekend in the Budweiser Bullpen for two very important games.

Team owner and president of the Amarillo Wranglers Austin Sutter will take over the coaching duties for the remainder of the season. Sutter has a wealth of coaching experience and will be working closely with former head coach and current President of Hockey Operations for the Wranglers, Harry Mahood.

Friday Night

The Amarillo Wranglers took the 10 hour bus ride through a blizzard as they had three games against division rival Colorado Grit.

From the drop of the puck, Amarillo dominated every aspect of this game, and Westpoint commit Ben Ivy scored two goals in this game.

The game also saw scoring by Connor McNaughton, Luke Morris and Morley Phillips.

Amarillo took advantage of the power play by scoring two power play goals in this game. Amarillo goalie Connor McDonough played lights out stopping 29-of-30 shots, thus giving him his 22nd win of the season.

Saturday Afternoon

In what can only be described as a scoring festival, the Wranglers set the tone early in this game.

Within the first three minutes, Amarillo defenseman and University of Alaska, Orridge commit Nolen Gagnon hit a bottle rocket to start the scoring bonanza.

Eight different Amarillo skaters scored goals as the Wranglers emerged victorious 8-4. McDonough saved 26 out of 30 shots to give him his 23rd victory of the season.

Sunday Afternoon

With a great deal of confidence in their back pockets, the Wranglers skated into the Ice Haus in Greeley, chasing home-ice advantage after clenching a playoff berth Friday night.

Amarillo scored within the first two minutes when Connor McNaughton took a beautiful center pass from linemate and Ukrainian native Roman Zap, giving the Wranglers an early 1-0 lead. The Colorado Grit scored twice in the first period, giving them the unusual lead going into the first intermission.

Westpoint commit Jack Ivey scored his team-leading 29th goal of the season to tie this game up. Amarillo Winger Jack McDonald joined the scoring party giving Amarillo a 3-2 lead at the 11:28 mark of the second period.

Jack Ivey scored again in the third period, adding to his team-leading goal count of 30 for the season. Ivey is just six goals short of a franchise record of 36 goals scored in the single-season, currently held by University of New Hampshire and former Amarillo Wrangler Kristaps Skrastins.

Skrastins also holds the very prestigious record of 3 Hattrick’s in a row in his very first three games in the NAHL. Jack Ivey continued his dominating performance against the Colorado Grit as he has scored a point in every single game played against the Grit.

This is an amazing feat. J. Ivey was also announced as the NAHL South Division Star of the Week. McDonough won his 24th game of the season, tying him for the league lead.

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 102.9 FM the Panhandle Sports Star.

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