The Blackfalds Wranglers suffered a tough overtime loss at the hands of the Okotoks Bisons last Friday in HJHL action.
The Wranglers went into the game sitting in a dead heat with the Red Deer Vipers for second place in the Northern Division thanks to a strong 2-1-0 record.
Blackfalds played short-staffed during the game, as they only had five defensemen and were just shy of a full regiment of forwards, meaning they would have to run with less than four full lines.
“We just did the best that we possibly could and we got snake bitten again,” said Head Coach Sean Neumeier, adding that the team put in a solid effort.
The game started out strong with both teams trading shots and checks at Okotoks’ Murray Arena. Both goalies were solid, and neither let a single puck by in the opening frame. By the end of the first the Bisons held a narrow 9-8 lead in shots.
Blackfalds didn’t waste any time at the start of the second, though, as Brock Boguski put the puck past Bisons goaltender Matthew McDonald just 1:53 into the second frame to give his team a 1-0 lead.
The Bisons would pull even, though, as Tyler Rohl would beat Wranglers goalie Nicolas Herrebrugh at 13:31 of the second.
That second frame was easily the busiest of the game in terms of shots, as the Bisons again edged the Wranglers 17-13 in the chances department.
The third period held much the same story as the first when shots and goals are concerned.
Both teams traded chances throughout the period but neither side was able to solve the other’s goaltender. This one would need overtime.
The extra period was a nail-biter for the Wranglers. Both sides had their chances as the shots finished 3-2 in favour of the Bisons.
Then, just when it looked like the deadlocked game would have to be decided with a shootout, Connor Tudor of the Bisons put the puck past Herrebrugh to win the game for Okotoks. Final score was 2-1 Bisons.
“The last seconds of the overtime they got us. I was hoping to see a shootout,” Neumeier joked.
“They worked hard again. They honestly did. I really like our work ethic this year. All four games we’ve put in a good effort,” he added.
Blackfalds was scheduled to play a home game last Sunday against Medicine Hat, but the matchup was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.
The league has not yet announced when the game will be made up.
Next up for the Wranglers was a Wednesday night matchup against the Ponoka Stampeders.
“They have the same number of wins as us. The main thing that I’m going to preach to the guys is we cannot overlook them, we cannot take them lightly and we have to play the exact same way that we play against Okotoks and Cochrane and Airdrie and teams like that,” said the coach before the game, adding that because the team’s first four games have been against some of the strongest teams in the league, they should have a good chance of winning.
After Ponoka, the Wranglers will be back in Blackfalds on Sunday to host the defending champion Coaldale Copperheads (3-4-0) in a rematch of last year’s HJHL championship. That game is sure to be an exciting matchup and gets underway at 3:30 p.m. at Blackfalds Arena.
“We need to get some revenge on them.”
With this weekend’s overtime loss, the Wranglers move to a 2-1-1 record for the season and find themselves just one point behind Airdrie in the early-season North Division standings.
The team also placed fourth in the HJHL’s weekly Power Rankings thanks to their high goal production during their two wins so far this season. Their only two losses have been against powerhouses in Cochrane (6-0-0) and Okotoks.