The Amarillo Wranglers were eliminated from the North American Hockey League playoffs as a result of two losses suffered at the hands of the Lone Star Brahmas this past weekend at the
NYTEX Sports Center in North Richland Hills. With only four games left in the inaugural season for the Wranglers proved they belong in the toughest NAHL division. The Southern Division has produced the Robertson Cup champion in the NAHL three out of the last five seasons, and is also known for its physical play.
Wranglers Build a Season of Respect
The inaugural season for the Amarillo Wranglers is the definition of “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” Amarillo’s season started off like a mad bull exploding out of the chute. Latvian phenom Kristaps Straskins jumped out onto the junior hockey scene in North America making history by starting off the season with three hat tricks in a row, putting the NAHL on notice that there’s a new sheriff in town. Straskins is currently ranked 3rd in the league in goals (35) with four games left to play. One of the highlights of the beginning of the season was the 4-1 victory over Amarillo’s former NAHL franchise, the North Iowa Bulls. Throughout the season the Wranglers built a reputation of “respect “ and if you were coming to Amarillo to play in the Budweiser Bullpen, you better bring your “A” game because under the coaching of Harry Mahood and his staff, the Amarillo Wranglers were not your typical “expansion” team.
As a result of undying passion for our community and hockey, a local ownership group was created to bring an NAHL team back to Amarillo after the unexpected and very controversial departure of the previous franchise, the Amarillo Bulls. Austin Sutter, Eric Andersen and Chris Wright came together and were able to purchase the Kansas City Scouts franchise from the legendary owners of the Kansas City Chiefs— the Hunt family. Initiated by a Facebook post, and the result of quick and intense work, this group that consisted of ice entertainment/ athletic executives and an attorney were able to execute this purchase.
Starting From Scratch
Ownership started off building this team by hiring legendary coach and fan favorite Harry Mahood. Mahood has coached all levels of hockey including his very popular stint in Amarillo as assistant coach for the NAHL National Champion Amarillo Bulls in 2013. The season really started off in late July in Flagstaff, AZ., where the Wranglers participated in their first NAHL draft. Because of COVID-19, the Kansas City Scouts opted out of the 2020-21 season and the players were distributed throughout the NAHL. As a result of that situation, Amarillo started off with a blank piece of paper. Under the tutelage of Mahood and former Bulls player and now Wranglers assistant coach Cody Gylling, the Wranglers put together a team of players that no one wanted, thus giving these players second and, in some situations, third chances to play in the NAHL.
The Amarillo Wranglers mantra is “If you play for the Wranglers, you must have Pride and Purpose” and “boy howdy” the Amarillo Wranglers are filled with character and quality men. Whether it’s the captain, Jayden Jensen, making history playing in his 200th game of his NAHL career or the team going to Rolling Hills Elementary teaching Hockey Health, this squad is filled with character. Week in and week out on the Wranglers entrenched themselves in our community. These players come from all over the world to play in Amarillo, and I promise you this: at the end of the season, these world-class athletes take a little piece of Amarillo with them when they go home.
With only four games left in the season (all home games) Amarillo (26-27-1-2, 55 points) wants to finish strong. The Wranglers take on the Odessa Jackalopes in the at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Amarillo Civic Center Budweiser Bullpen. Saturday night includes a special throwback Amarillo Wranglers Jersey auction.