The Amarillo Wranglers hosted North American Hockey League South Division rival Shreveport in a special Thursday morning Elementary School matinee followed by a special Friday night tribute to the Military game at the Budweiser Bullpen. The Wranglers were able to come away with a split with the Mudbugs after falling 5-1 Thursday but bouncing back with a strong showing Friday with a 2-0 shutout.
The Amarillo Wranglers improve to 10-6-1-0 with a total of 21 points in this young season. Amarillo travels to Albuquerque, N.M. this weekend for a two-game set against the Ice Wolves in the Outpost Ice Arena.
After playing five games in eight days, the Amarillo Wranglers came into this game battle worn and riding high after winning four out of five games against reigning NAHL Champion Oklahoma Warriors.
It was elementary school day at the Budweiser Bullpen with thousands of screaming Taylor Swift like fans. Mudbugs defenseman Logan Heroux sniped an unexpected shot from the blue line over the shoulder of the very surprised Amarillo goalie Connor McDonough to start the scoring. Connor McNaughton scored (sixth goal of the season) and continue with his hot stick as he received a pass from linemate Roman Zap to make things interesting in the second period. The Shreveport Mudbugs went on to score four unanswered goals to win this matinee game 5-1.
The Mudbugs crawled into the Budweiser Bullpen Friday night with a three-game, winning streak and a lot of confidence in their back pocket.
Wranglers’ head coach Ryan Anderson said on the Drive at Five with Lance Lahnert (102.9FM The Panhandle Sports) on Thursday’s show, the Wranglers were coming into Friday night’s affair with a huge chip on their shoulder. Within nanoseconds of the puck drop the energy level in the Budweiser Bullpen was through the roof.
With almost 3,000 win-hungry Wranglers fans in the house, the blue-collar hockey was on full display. With an attack attitude, Wranglers offense was relentless in its onslaught of shots in the first period. Eliot Seguin-Leacarbeau was magnificent between the pipes this Friday night. Fan favorite Tommy Chunchukov placed the puck perfectly to linemate Luke Morris as he put the biscuit in the basket, to give the Wranglers a 1-0 lead early in the second period.
Make no mistake about it: this turned out to be another classic NAHL Southern Division contest. With two of the hottest goalies in all of the NAHL, neither disappointed. Wrangler goalie Connor McDonough translated his skills into art as he stopped shot after shot in amazing fashion. With the exception of one amazing shot, Mudbugs Goalie Seguin-Leacarbeau also put on quite the goalie clinic.
Amarillo defense stifled rush after rush as the highly stitched up assistant captain and defenseman Kyle DeMarco put on a Defensemen showcase. The entire Wranglers defense corps gave the mighty Mudbugs offensive lines fits and along with the masterful play of netminder McDonough, the Wranglers shut out the Mudbugs in a classic junior hockey league game.
The Mudbugs pulled their goalie with two minutes left in the game when stick-man Connor McNaughton hit the empty basket to put the icing on the cake and the Wranglers went on for the 2-0 victory.
Salute to the Military
The Amarillo Hockey community has long been a supporter of the Military. The Wranglers continued the tradition of strong Military support within our community with a ceremony prior to Friday night’s matchup, with an amazing bag-pipes rendition of Amazing Grace, an outstanding performance by the West Plains Middle School choir of the national anthem, followed by a tearjerking POW flag presentation.
There was not a dry eye in the Budweiser Bullpen upon the completion of the POW Flag presentation. Retired 1st class Army Sargent James Smith in absolute perfect Army protocol presented his grandfather’s POW flag as part of this incredible ceremony.
James Smith has been an active member of the hockey community for decades. Wranglers head coach Ryan Anderson is a Navy veteran, along with Zamboni driver extraordinaire retired Air Force Nick Burney. With the ROTC color guard presenting arms and a Military salute from the crowd, Friday night’s Military tribute was special and something to be proud of as a community.
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.