The Amarillo Wranglers made the six-hour bus ride to the Metroplex 287 in North Richland Hills to face the Lone Star Brahmas at the NYTEX arena.
Unfortunately for Amarillo, it wasn’t the series the Wranglers were hoping for as Amarillo came up short 4-2 in Friday’s clash followed by a 4-1 loss on Saturday.
Wrangler goalie Connor McDonough started between the pipes riding a 12-game wining streak as the Wranglers looked to rebound from their loss to the Corpus Christi IceRays last Saturday night in the Budweiser bullpen.
The first period had no scoring, as both goalies were very impressive in their abilities to see and stop the puck. To start off the second period, Brahmas forward Brock James was able to sneak one by Wranglers goalie McDonough to give the Lone Star team 1-0.
At the 6:10 mark of the second, North American Hockey League Southern Player of the Week Jack Ivey received a beautiful pass from his brother, Ben, to tie up the score 1-1 going into the third period. The third period was full of penalties. Jack Ivey would continue with the hot stick and scored his eighth goal of the season at the 4:58 mark of the third period to make it interesting. The Lone Star scored two unanswered goals to end the night.
This game saw grand total of 101 penalty minutes. This also saw McDonough’s incredible win streak of 12 straight between the pipes come to an end.
Saturday night started off with a quick goal from Lone Star when Owen Kere was able to find the back of the net at the 14:45 mark of the first. The Wranglers lone goal of the night came in the third period from defensemen Lucas Jeffreys to notch his first goal of the season. This was Jeffreys first goal in the NAHL.
NAHL Staggered Season Start Op-ed
Due to the unique starting strategy for the year, the NAHL executes unnecessary challenges for teams that start their season later than others. The NAHL prides itself on the opening the NAHL Showcase that’s been held for 20 consecutive seasons in Blaine, Minn.
This showcase is billed as the NAHL season opener. However, there are a handful of teams that play up to five games prior to this tournament.
Going into this weekend’s games, the Amarillo Wranglers played six games compared to the 10 games the Brahmas played, nearly 50 percent more playing time than the Wranglers. That’s 50 percent more time spent in game situations developing lines and strategies. That’s 50 percent more time developing an identity for a team.
This is true throughout the league. Also, the other disadvantage to the NAHL staggered season start is at the end of the season. There are teams who have played more games and will need two weekends off for the staggered teams to catch up. This equals out the games played. So, at the most important part of the season, the teams that played more games now have two weekends off to recover and recuperate from the rigors of a very long 60 game season.
It is this writer’s opinion the NAHL must address these challenges. Hockey is a game of physicality, mental toughness and confidence, and when you create challenges at the beginning of a season for a handful of teams, it could impact the entire season.
The Amarillo Wranglers are 4-4-0-1 with eight points for this young season. Amarillo will host Odessa (3-6-0-1, seven points) at 7:15 p.m. on Friday and Saturday night.
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.