Amarillo Wranglers stay hot, inch closer to playoff spot


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Amarillo’s Ben Ivey greets fans during a game earlier this season. [Photo courtesy Lauren Corea]
The Amarillo Wranglers stayed hot by getting a sweep of the Corpus Christi IceRays at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi this past weekend.

Thursday’s game had a morning start time that was entertaining for the packed house in front of loud and boisterous grade schoolers for their annual school day games. The Wranglers won the morning game 4-3. Friday night saw another big crowd, however, the game was never in doubt as the Wranglers pulled away for the 4-0 victory. The Wranglers have owned the series against Corpus Christi this season with a 7-1 mark and Amarillo is on a current five game winning streak. During this win streak Amarillo’s offense has been superb by outscoring opponents 28-9.

Playoff scenario 

The Wranglers are sitting at 30-23-2-1 overall with 63 points, just two points behind New Mexico for the fourth and final playoff spot of the North American Hockey League’s South Division with four games to play. The schedule plays in the Amarillo’s favor with two very important home games this weekend against the Lone Star Brahmas who have also clinched a playoff spot. The Wranglers finish the regular season on the road with Odessa for two very important games. Conversely, the Ice Wolves have two home games against a very good Odessa team and finish up the season at home with the best team in all of the NAHL the Oklahoma Warriors. Stay tuned, this is going to be interesting.

Thursday’s Recap

In front of a packed house of screaming grade schoolers, the IceRays drew first blood when Nate Murray scored quickly in the first period to give the IceRays an unusual 1-0 lead. Wranglers forward Jack McDonald executed some magic from behind the net and snuck the puck past IceRays goalie Patrik Jurcak to tie the game 1-1 going into the first intermission. At the 1:38 mark of the second, Wranglers forward Luke Morris took a beautiful feed from blue-liner Jon Barker to score his sixth goal of the season. Ben Ivey scored his 12th and 13th goal of the year in the second period. Not since Andrew Takacs, a former Amarillo goalie and currently playing for Colgate, has an Amarillo goalie played outside the net like Wranglers new goalie Connor McDonough. This came back to haunt McDonough as he was caught out of position when IceRays forward Logan Neilson got one past him to make things interesting. The Wranglers held on and beat the IceRays 4-3 in a nailbiter. McDonough wins his fourth game of the season for the Wranglers stopping 17-of-20 shots.

Friday’s Recap

The Wranglers came out to play some physical hockey and that’s exactly what they did playing like a team on a mission. At the 16:22 mark of the first period Wranglers forward and fan favorite Zack Kent smoked a bottle rocket as the Wranglers took a 1-0 lead. Ben Ivey, Pierce Patterson and Jack McDonald also scored in this game as the Wranglers shut out the IceRays for their fifth consecutive win. McDonough has to be considered one of the hottest goalies in all of the NAHL with five consecutive victories for his new team. His performance thus far has been outstanding.

“ I love playing for this team, McDonough said. “I love playing for this city. The fans here are amazing and I’m just so happy I can contribute in a small but meaningful way”.

McDonough is 5-0 with the Wranglers after stopping all 23 shots on Friday for his first shutout in an Amarillo uniform.

What’s next

The Wranglers will be playing the Lone Star Brahmas this weekend at the Budweiser Bullpen for their final two home games of the regular season. Please watch for Tommy Tee’s weekly Wranglers update and also catch Tommy at 5 p.m. Thursday evenings on the “Drive at Five” with a Lance Lahnert on the Panhandle Sports Star (102.9-F.M.)

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