BY KALISHA MENDONSA
The Blackfalds Wranglers put on a great show for their fundraising game against the Ponoka Stampeders on Tuesday night, coming out on top with 11 goals to Ponoka’s 4.
The Wranglers boys came to their coaches about the idea of ‘Hockey Night 4 Murph’, a fundraiser to help support the Murphy family of Lacombe. Cobin Murphy suffered a spinal injury last year, and the boys wanted to show support for the family. Nearly $1,000 was raised through ticket sales and 50/50 tickets that will go directly to the Murphy family.
Jeese Sweetham, general manager of the Wranglers, was very proud of the two teams coming together to support the community.
“I think with a game like tonight’s, it’s great and entertaining for the fans. A night like tonight isn’t really about the game, though – it’s about the cause and the community,” he said.
“The fact that it was that exciting was great – any other night and I’m sure the coaches would be pulling their hair out, but I think tonight we’re all more focused on the bigger picture,” he said, adding that it was a delight to see the community respond to the cause of helping out the Murphy family.
The game started off slow in the first period with not much action taking place, but exploded in the second period with a total of nine goals scored. Within the first minute of the second period, the Wranglers kicked off the spree with a tight goal from Eric Moltzahn.
From there, the game seemed to kick into high gear as Ponoka quickly tied the score 1-1, with the Wranglers hardly skipping a beat before pulling ahead again to 2-1.
The second period saw a steady back and forth exchange between the teams that finished the period at 5-4 for the Wranglers.
Despite the action on the ice, the crowd and teams all knew what the evening was truly about – the Murphy family.
“Our players came to us and said, ‘Hey we want to do this,’ which was really neat to see from them. The Gord Bamford Foundation allows us to do stuff like this and provides us funding to host events like this. All of these things kind of came together at the right time and it turned out,” said Sweetham.
The Murphy family was unable to attend the game, as most of their time is spent in Edmonton caring for Cobin. They did have many friends in the crowd though and many more who were simply there to show support for a local family.
Head Coach Sean Numeier said any other day and the coaches would have been incredibly happy with the final score, but again that the focus was not on the game, but the cause.
“The town gave us a lot of support tonight. We had a good turnout and made a lot of money for the Murphy family, so it was a success all in all,” he said.
“We love it here, we love seeing the fans coming out so tonight was a good way to make everybody happy.”
As far as upcoming games, Numeier said they will not influence the team’s standing, but are simply going to help to continue to build momentum that will hopefully carry the team into playoffs on a positive note.
“We’re a momentum team. When something good happens, the guys run with it, but it’s just a matter of when that happens. We’ve had slow starts lately, but I think that will change once the guys get some rest. There’s still some time for them before playoffs, but you never know.”
Heading into playoffs, Numeier is confident of the team’s abilities but said the boys will have to pick up their attention to detail if they want to stay sharp.
“Right now, we’re going to focus on a bit of rest so that we can come back healthy and as clean as we can. We want a full, healthy line-up to come into playoffs the right way.”
Numeier said he’s proud to see the guys stepping up and making a mark in the community. The Hockey Night 4 Murph was inspired by the team, and the young men of the Ponoka Stampeders happily obliged as several of their members also know the Murphy family.
Numeier added that it’s been great to see the guys grow on and off the ice.
“We’ve been doing a lot of stuff in schools, had another community event recently and now this and people are supporting it,” he said. “We see the engagement in our crowds – the crowds are bigger and the support is there. The social media engagement and the skate with the Wranglers events are all part of those guys reaching out to the community. They’re doing great things for the community and doing great things on the ice.
”I’m a pretty happy guy with my team right now.”
The Wranglers will take on the Stettler Lightning on Friday evening at 8 p.m. in Stettler.