Amarillo’s Wranglers split weekend series with New Mexico Ice Wolves

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Zack Kent of the Amarillo Wrangles moves the puck up ice during a game earlier this season Photo courtesy Lauren Corea
The Amarillo Wranglers blew into Albuquerque, N.M. to play two games against the New Mexico Ice Wolves in the Outpost Ice Arena.

In a couple of hard-fought games, the Wranglers defeated the Ice Wolves 3-2 on  Friday night in a exciting and volatile overtime game clash, followed by a 4-2 defeat on Saturday night. Amarillo is now 17-14-2-1 with 37 points, sitting 4 points behind the Shreveport Mudbugs with 41 points.

Friday’s Recap

Friday night’s game was full of smash mouth hockey, as the Wranglers continue to push for a playoff berth. The scoring started right away when Wranglers forward Jack Ivey took a hot shot on goal that bounced towards his twin brother Ben Ivey who managed somehow to find the back of the net at the 3:29 mark of the first period. Amarillo went into the second period with a 1-0 lead when New Mexico’s William Howard scored at the 0:12 mark of the second period to tie it up. Midway through the second, “stick man” and Wranglers forward Jack McDonald took a hit to the boards that was felt in Amarillo. At that very moment, the momentum shift towards the Ice Wolves was measurable. Seeking an opportunity to change the direction of the game. Forward and New York native Zach Kent played some amazingly physical hockey to shift the momentum back to Amarillo. The Wranglers grabbed the lead a few short minutes later off a lightning “wrister” shot from Preston Brighton that blazed over the Ice Wolves goalie. Towards the end of the third, Kent was hit in very controversial fashion. Incidentally, there wasn’t a penalty called by the officials. This unfortunate and incident required immediate and attentive medical attention. With less than five seconds left in the game, the Ice Wolves were able to tie it up, sending the game into overtime. In 0:36 mark in overtime, Amarillo defenseman and West Point commit Pierce Preston forced a turnover with laser like focus and was able to get the puck to German/Ukrainian native and NAHL Top Prospect participant Roman Zap. Zap went “bottle rocket” to score the winning goal in spectacular fashion. The voice of the Amarillo Wranglers Nick Lalpuis while calling the game on Hockey TV, said it perfectly “That one was for Zack Kent, that one’s for Zack”. Kent was taken Presbyterian Hospital and  has been released. As a result of the unnecessary injuries, Kent sustained a broken nose and sprained back/neck. Amarillo goalie Carter Clafton would go on to take the victory, saving 31 out of 33 shots. Clafton is 6-8-2-1 for the season.

Saturday’s Recap

Saturday night saw a dinged-up Amarillo team looking for a sweep but that however wasn’t the case. Without their up-and-coming leader and very popular player’s player, Kent, the Wranglers were able to keep it close. Defenseman Rihards Simanvovics tied it up in the third period, however, the Ice Wolves were able to answer back with two quick goals from William Howard and Sulley Scholle. The Wranglers would fall 4-2.

Wranglers boast college commits 

One of the goals of the Amarillo Wranglers organization is to bring character players into the organization and to work throughout the community. Last week the Wranglers announced that three skaters have committed to play Division I college hockey at Army West Point. Wranglers’ forwards, Ben Ivey, Jack Ivey along with defenseman Pierce Patterson will play for Army during the 2023-2024 hockey season. Never before in the NAHL have three players from the same team committed to a military academy. Also committing to another military academy was goalie Carter Clafton. Clafton committed to Air Force and will also be suiting up for the Falcons during the 2023-2024 season.

Top prospects tournament approaching

Defenseman and Latvian native Rihards Simanovics, who recently played in the World Juniors in Halifax, Nova Scotia for team Latvia, and German/Ukrainian native Roman Zap will represent the Wranglers at the North American Hockey League’s Top Prospects Tournament at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania. This tournament is one of the most highly scouted events in junior hockey. The NAHL reports over 200 scouts attended last season’s tournament. Good luck to these two young men as they seek an opportunity to play at the next level.

What’s Next

The Amarillo Wranglers will make the long bus ride to face the the El Paso Rhinos at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Please watch for Tommy Tee’s weekly Wranglers update and also catch Tommy at 5 p.m., on Thursday evenings on the “Drive at Five” with a Lance Lahnert on the Panhandle Sports Star (102.9-F.M.)

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