The Amarillo Wranglers ushered a new era with new head coach Ryan Anderson making his first appearance on the bench in front of the home faithful at the Budweiser Bullpen.
Anderson’s home debut saw his Amarillo Wranglers come away with a weekend split with North American League South Division rival Corpus Christi on Friday and Saturday.
The Wranglers won a nail-biting shootout on Friday, 5-4, before falling in another high scoring affair, 8-5, on Saturday.
In front of close to 3,000 fans along with a fantastic car show in the concourse of the Amarillo Civic Center, the hockey rabid crowd was treated to a textbook example of physical hockey, and its disproportionate share of skirmishes.
Trailing 2-0 in the second period, Colorado Springs native Bryce Cooper in his Wranglers’ debut decided it was go time as he electrified the Budweiser Bullpen with a good old fashion whooping.
After the dust settled, Cooper was assessed a 10-minute fighting penalty. With an electric crowd, and an energized Wranglers bench, within a few short minutes, Finland native Topi Puikkonen put one between the pipes to cut the lead in half, 2-1.
While the crowd was still on fire, Army commit and team captain Ben Ivey tied it up at the 7:26 mark of the second.
The IceRays stole back the momentum in the third period with a pair of goals to go back up 4-2. However, the Wranglers were able to answer with goals from Jack McDonald and Army commit Jack Ivey to take this thriller into overtime.
After five minutes of three-on-three hockey, the score still remained 4-4. In the shootout, both teams scored immediately. Moments later, Amarillo pulled out the victory when Connor McNaughton ended by getting one past IceRays goalie Vilgot Holm. Wranglers’ goalie Connor McDonough was tough in the net stopping 25-of-29 shots to notch his third victory of the season and 12th straight since joining the Amarillo roster.
Saturday’s game can only be described as a penalty palooza. As the old adage says, “I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.”
Both teams dislike for one another showed very evidently with over 60 minutes of penalties and skirmish after skirmish.
Both goalies were beat up in this physical clash. Wranglers’ highlights included two goals from captain Ben Ivey, and a fight with fan favorite and recently released from suspension Divyne Apollon (affectionately known as Devo) in what can only be described as a “knockdown drag out fight”.
The Wranglers were not able to keep pace with the IceRays falling 8-5.
Amarillo goalie Luca Ganz took the loss. Ganz stopped 31-of-39 shots moving his record to 1-2 in the season.
Jack Ivey earns NAHL Star of the Week
Army commit Jack Ivey was announced as an NAHL Star of the Week.
Thus far this season Ivey has a total of six goals to go with five assists for a grand total of 11 points. Ivey ranks in the top 15 in scoring across the NAHL with only six games played. Ivey will be reporting for duty next fall on the banks of the Hudson River in West Point, N.Y.
The Amarillo Wranglers are 4-2-0-1 with eight points. Amarillo will be back on the road to face the Lone Star Brahmas on Friday and Saturday with the puck dropping at 7:05 p.m.
Please listen for Tommy Tee‘s weekly recap of the Amarillo Wranglers hockey on the “Drive at Five” with Lance Lahnert on Thursday afternoons at 5 p.m., exclusively on 102.9 FM the Panhandle Sports Star.