The Amarillo Wranglers sought to end their three-game losing streak at the Budweiser bullpen on Friday and Saturday.
The Wranglers lost Friday’s matchup, 2-1, in an exciting overtime matchup with North American Hockey League South Division rival Odessa. On Saturday night, Amarillo had another barn burner with the Jackalopes, but this time were able to come away with a thrilling 6-5 OT victory.
Amarillo is now 5-4-1-0 with a total of 11 points for this young season. The Wranglers will play host to the NAHL reigning Robertson Cup champion Oklahoma Warriors (7-2-1-0) back at home on Friday and Saturday with the puck drop at 7:15 p.m.
The first period was a textbook goalie clinic between Connor McDonough of the Wranglers and Quentin Sigurdon of Odessa.
There were a total of 29 shots on goal in the first period, in which not a single puck hit the back of the net. Halfway through the second, Jackalopes forward Matvey Ivanov found the back of the net to propel the Jackalopes to a 1-0 lead. That was the only scoring of the second period.
Going into the third period Wranglers forward Topi Puikkonen was able to take a nice feed from linemate Nolan Gagnon to tie up this defensive battle. The game remained tied throughout regulation and overtime would be the theme of the night. There are a lot of junior hockey experts that say overtime in the NAHL is some of the most exciting hockey played on the planet. This night was no exception. Three-on-three hockey in the NAHL is fast, furious, and physical. At the 4:36 mark in the overtime, Jackalopes forward Micheal Kadlecik ended the game as the Wranglers dropped their fourth straight game.
In front of a large and win-hungry crowd, the Wranglers finally saw a four-game skid come to a close.
Amarillo started the fireworks with a beautiful goal from fan favorite Colin Doherty. However, within a minute Jackalopes forward Christian Tavare scored to tie up the game. Wranglers forward Connor McNaughton was able to take a nice pass from Roman Zap to give the Amarillo Wranglers a 2-1 lead going into the second period.
Jack Ivey started the scoring bonanza in the second period as he found the back of the net at the 17:20 mark. Puikkonen tallied his second goal of the weekend and the Wranglers took a commanding 4-1 advantage. Just a few minutes later Amarillo forward Alex (Pap’s) Papaspryopoulios scored his fourth goal of the season to give Amarillo a 5–2 lead going into the third period.
The Jackalopes made it very interesting in the third period by scoring three unanswered goals, two by Jackalopes forward Hayden DeMars, to take this game into overtime.
Overtime was the theme of the weekend, and the Wranglers needed a victory as the Budweiser Bullpen was on fire with excitement, as the Wranglers went into yet another overtime affair. This game in regulation saw its disproportionate share of blue-collar hockey with fighting penalties in abundance. At the 2:17 mark in overtime Army commit Jack Ivey hit a bottle rocket to score his 10th goal of the season to give the Wranglers a 6-5 victory in overtime.
Ivey‘s 10th goal of the season ranks him third in the NAHL for goals scored so far this season. German native and Wranglers goalie Luca Ganz would take the win, stopping 21-of-26 shots.
Fighting in Junior League hockey Op-ed
The North American Hockey League has taken great strides to curtail fighting in their league. The officiating process that the NAHL requires and mandates to its officials is, fighting should be stifled and not part of the game.
This season the Wranglers have pushed that envelope in a way not seen in this community for years. The blue-collar execution of hockey from the Wranglers and the penalty minutes for fighting this season is at an all-time high. The South Division of the NAHL is known for its physicality and its pushing of the envelope relative to fighting penalties and how these minutes are distributed.
The Wranglers have taken this to the next level with their blue-collar approach. Fighting is a necessary tool in most circumstances to regain momentum, or change the momentum of the game. We have seen this time and time again in the Budweiser Bullpen this season and I expect more.
So if you like blue collar, physical hockey, you will absolutely like the style of play that new head coach Ryan Anderson is bringing to the ice this season. Stay tuned.
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.