The Amarillo Wranglers were eliminated from the North American Hockey League playoffs in a heartbreaker to the Oklahoma Warriors. In front of a packed house at the Budweiser Bullpen on Friday night, Oklahoma was able to overcome a three goal deficit to hand the Wranglers a heartbreaking 4-3 loss in overtime to complete the sweep of the best-of-five series.
At the 6:53 mark of the first period Amarillo forward and West Point commit Jack Ivey took a nice feed from Jack McDonald to score his 12th goal of the season as Amarillo took a 1-0 lead early in the first period. The momentum continued for the Wranglers when Cooper Rice took a beautiful pass from captain Chase Davis as he hit the back of the net putting Amarillo up 2-0 heading into the first intermission.
The game looked all but won for the Wranglers when Jack McDonald joined the scoring party with his 15th goal of the season early in the second period making it a commanding 3-0 advantage. Amarillo took a 3-0 lead going into the second intermission. However, things took a turn for the worst for Amarillo in a disastrous third period as the Warriors stole all the momentum by scoring three unanswered goals to force overtime. In playoff hockey overtime begins with a 20 minute 5-on-5 sudden death overtime period.
If there is no scoring in the overtime period, the game moves to a shootout. Within the first minute of the overtime, the Warriors scored the only goal needed to close out the game thus ending Amarillo’s season.
A season recap
Amarillo finished the season at 33-23-2-1 ( 71 points). Being in the playoffs was remarkable for the second-year franchise after finishing the past few weeks of the regular season on an incredible nine-game streak that led to the playoff berth. That’s a winning streak that will go down in Amarillo Hockey folklore as being one of the most exciting times in Junior League Hockey Amarillo has ever experienced.
In their sophomore season improvement was the theme. Last season Amarillo had 58 points and missed the playoffs. This season they had 71 points and made the playoffs in exciting and spectacular fashion. Amarillo also finished second in the entire NAHL in fan attendance with an average of 2,637 per game just a few fans short of the Shreveport Mudbugs.
Last season Amarillo averaged about 2,000 fans per game. As far as this season’s community service goes, the Wranglers scored a hat-trick. With 16 “Hockey For Heath” games (played in grade school gyms with students), 10 field trip visits to the Ice Ranch and the volunteer work for Snack Pack for Kids, the Maverick, Don Harrington Discovery Center and many more the Amarillo Wranglers organization was entrenched in our nonprofit community.
The Amarillo Wranglers have positioned themselves under the guidance of head coach Harry Mahood to be a contender in the NAHL South Division. With a strong core of tendered players, the Wranglers will find themselves in the playoff conversation for next season. Tendered players like Tommy Chunchukov, Zach Bye, Jack and Ben Ivey, Kyle DeMarco Divyne Apollon and the hottest goalie in all of the NAHL Connor McDonough, the Wranglers have one of the strongest core of returning players in all of the NAHL. Like the old Timbuck 3 song says: “The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades”.
I want to thank Lauren Corea of Lo Co photography for supplying us with some spectacular photographs throughout this season. Corea’s magnificent athletic eye has enhanced our efforts in bringing you the best recap we can possibly deliver.