The Amarillo Wranglers started off its season strong by winning 3-of-4 games at the North American Hockey League Showcase, garnering 6 valuable points, in Blaine, Minn.
This is the 20th anniversary of this very prestigious showcase that traditionally starts the NAHL season.
The Pure Hockey Super Rink arena is considered the largest skating facility in the world and has eight sheets of ice. This showcase host over 300 college hockey scouts, and is a conduit for the NAHL players for college scholarships. The North American Hockey League created a pathway for over 300 players to receive scholarships last season with 70% of them division one.
The New Look Wranglers
During the off-season, it was announced that fan favorite, hockey Icon and head coach-general manager of the Amarillo Wranglers, Harry Mahood, was promoted to President of Hockey Operations for the franchise. As part of the restructuring the hottest coach in the North American 3HL (Tier 3 Jr Hockey League) Ryan Anderson former head coach of the Texas Brahmas (part of the Lone Star Brahmas organization) was hired as head coach.
Anderson was able to lead his team during his tenure at the Brahmas to 74 wins in 87 attempts. Anderson’s team won the NA3 championship and proudly display the Frazier Cup.
The Frazier Cup is the equivalent of the Robertson Cup that is given to the NAHL Champion. Anderson has a strong reputation for player development and moving these young athletes onto the next level.
“As we reflect on the inception of the project two seasons ago our primary goal was cleaf,” Amarillo Wrangler president Austin Sutter said. “That’s to bring forth a robust and consistently exceptional product that would resonate with our dedicated fanbase in Amarillo. With utmost deliberation, we sought out the idea candidate to lead and execute this ambition vision and it became evident that was perfect fit. From the moment we acquired the franchise it was our unwavering intention for Harry to orchestrate and implement the blueprint for success. Our objective has been to establish a foundation and culture that will stand the test of time and install pride in our seats city needless to say, Harry has not only met but surpassed all expectations, reinvigorating hockey in the Texas panhandle.”
Sutter went on to speak about Anderson.
”The process of recruiting a new head coach was approached with utmost seriousness,” Sutter said. “Our criteria was stringent, and Ryan emerged as the ideal candidate who checked all the necessary boxes, his records of championships as a head coach and successful tenure with the esteemed Lone Star Brahmas organization demonstrated his abilities.”
The 20th annual NAHL Showcase
The Amarillo Wranglers continued their winning ways by taking three out of four games at the 20th annual in NAHL Showcase.
With 15 returners and a team chalked full of veteran experience, that experience was reflective on the ice during the showcase. Goalie Connor McDonough continued his strong play in net from last year with victories over the Janesville Jets and the Minnesota Wilderness to win his 11th straight game.
Luca Ganz, the Wranglers other goalie also came away with a victory during the showcase against the Johnstown Tomahawks.
“I’m just so happy for my team,” Ganz said. “I’m so happy to help. I’m really hoping for a great season.”
Other highlights from the showcase were the two-goal performance against the Janesville Jets from Ontario, Canada native Alex Papaspryopoulios.
Finland native Topi Puikkonew three goals and four assists and forward Roman Zap scoring seven points in 4 games. Army commit Jack Ivey tallied four goals at the tournament in a powerful and statement like performance.
Not in recent memory has an Amarillo hockey team had 15 returners. Under new head coach Ryan Anderson fan expectations for this season are high.
Making the playoffs in their second season and in such nail-biting fashion, hockey hungry fans are rabid with anticipation. Under the leadership of Army commits, captain, Ben Ivey, along his twin brother and scoring partner, Jack Ivey, the culture of smash mouth hockey will fill the arena.
Defensemen and returner Kyle DeMarco talked about this Wrangler team recently on the Drive at 5 with Lance Lahnert.
“I’m excited to see what our returners and our new players are going to do this season.”
If the showcase is any barometer as to where the season is going the future looks very bright. Fan favorites like Tommy Chunchukov and the enforcer Baltimorean Divyne Apollon will only add to the quantifiable excitement to the Budweiser Bullpen. Returners, Jack McDonald, Connor McNaughton, Zach Bye and the goalie tandem of Connor McDonough, and Luca Ganz gives the Wrangler fans have a lot to look forward to.
The Amarillo Wranglers are 3-1-0-0 with 6 points after the NAHL Showcase. The home opener is Friday and Saturday night at the Budweiser Bullpen as they play against South Division rival Corpus Christi 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 every Thursday afternoon at5 p.m. exclusively on 102.9 FM the Panhandle Sports Star.