The Amarillo Wranglers faced a major setback when they had a chance to really make some noise in the North American League Hockey South Division.
The Wranglers faced a rare sweep at home against the Oklahoma City Warriors falling 4-2 on Friday and by another 4-2 count on Saturday night at the Budweiser Bullpen.
Amarillo is now 23-15-5-2 (53 point) sitting in fourth place in the South Division, five points back of El Paso for third.
The Wranglers now hope to refocus taking an 11-hour bus ride El Paso this weekend for two crucial games against the Rhinos.
Up to this point in the season, Amarillo has dominated the Warriors with a 4-1 record on the year.
Under the watchful eye of the Wranglers fan base, the Warriors struck first at the 10:32 mark when warriors forward Max Dronen scored. Amarillo tied it up at the 3:32 mark when Luke Morris took a nice pass from linemate Topi Puikkonen to tie the game up 1-1.
Amarillo forward and 18-year-old Jacob Miller scored his second goal of his NAHL career. The Warriors went on to score three more times in the second period to give the Warriors a 4-2 lead. Neither team scored in the third period as the Wranglers dropped this game 4-2. Warriors goalie, Daniel Dries, who recently committed to play Division I hockey at Long Island University, was masterful between the pipes to give him his 17th victory of the season.
A revamped Oklahoma Warriors team marched into this game with one thing on their mind and that was getting a sweep.
Warriors’ fans were in abundance as they took the three-hour drive from OKC to watch this Southern Division clash. Not to be outdone, Amarillo’s 101 Crew was out in full force to support the Wranglers as well.
It was Pucks and Paws Night (bring your pet) at the Budweiser Bullpen, which was very apropos because there was a lot of barking on and off the ice. The first period saw Amarillo goalie Connor McDonagh get pelted time and time again in the first period, stopping 13-of-14 shots.
The Warriors scored first, as a result of Louie Kamienski hitting a bottle rocket that got past McDonough. A minute later, Wranglers center and Top Prospects tournament participant Roman Zap took a squirrelly feed from Trace Day to knot this thriller up 1-1 into the first break.
With the game tied 1-1, the Warriors scored in the second period at the 8:59 mark and took 2-1 lead going into the third period. On the power play and at 8:54 mark of the third period, Wranglers forward and Westpoint commit Jack Ivy scored his team-leading 26th goal of the season to make this game interesting.
With approximately three minutes left in the game Amarillo head coach Ryan Anderson pulled goalie McDonough to add some extra scoring power. At the 2:14 mark of the third period, the Warriors were able to score an empty netter as the Amarillo Wranglers fell this Saturday evening 4-2 in a disappointing nightcap.
Webster’s dictionary defines billet as “a place, usually a civilian’s house or other nonmilitary facility, where soldiers are lodged temporarily.”
This term is used in the hockey world as a reference to families or individuals who host junior league hockey players from around the country and the planet. My family has been a billet family for well over a decade now for our Amarillo hockey community for our junior league teams (Bulls and Wranglers). This is an opportunity for Amarillo families to integrate these young, world-class athletes into their homes and accept them as family members throughout the hockey season. These student athletes become part of the family and lifelong friendships blossom from these relationships. As a very proud billet, I can describe it with one word: “enrichment.”
These young men enrich our lives in so many different ways. They immerse themselves within our community, volunteering in the nonprofit sector, schools, city programs, etc. They are excellent role models for younger members of the family.
Getting to know these athletes and seeing the dedication needed to succeed in the NAHL is also something amazing to watch and to be a small part of. As a billet, you really get an opportunity to understand “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Sharing tears of joy and sorrow are not uncommon in a billet family.
We have been very fortunate to host some of the best players to come through Amarillo. More importantly, we have gotten to know these amazing student athletes off the ice, knowing who they are as individuals. In my humble opinion, hockey is the greatest sport on the planet, and it takes great integrity, honor, skill, and luck to succeed. Billeting is the best.
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.