The Amarillo Wranglers were able to take both games from the South division rival Lone Star in North Richland Hills over the weekend.
The Wranglers won the first game in convincing style 5-2 Friday, followed by a 3-2 shootout victory to complete the sweep Saturday night.
The Lone Star Brahmas played host to the Amarillo Wranglers at the beautiful NYTEX Sports Centre. In front of a boisterous and venomous crowd in Brahma Land, the Wranglers drew first blood at the 11:31 mark of the first period when Dominic Schimizzi found the back of the net off a fantastic feed from Anthony Vidrick. Both Schimizzi and Logan Clearly each scored two goals with recently acquired former Brahma Matej Palfy, adding one more point as he scored against his former team. Palfy is one of the tallest players in the North American Hockey League standing over 6-foot-8 in his skates. He is a huge presence on the ice. This game was never in doubt and certainly saw its fair share of fights. At the 4:18 mark in the third period, the league-leading goal scorer Kristaps Skrastins did not take kindly to the consistent cheap shots that the Brahmas were handing out through the game. Skrastins took matters into his own hands, earning him an ejection from the game on a charging (major) penalty. Skrastins would be suspended for Saturday night’s game as well. This was both a good play and a bad play for the Wranglers. The Wranglers held the advantage for the entire game, and the win was really never in doubt.
Saturday night saw a continuation of the aggressive and agitated play. Cheap shots and elbows were the theme of Saturday’s contest. The Brahmas chose this style of play, and it ultimately cost them two games. Amarillo scored first at the 13:08 mark when Yaroslavl Samadov laid the puck between the pipes during the Wranglers first power-play. The Wranglers lead the NAHL with a power-play percentage of 32.7%. Drayton Todoroff scored at the 19:54 mark of the first period as the Wranglers took a 2-0 lead going into the second period.
The Brahmas were able to tie it up in the second period as they scored two unanswered goals in the third period. Neither team scored during the third as the Brahmas continued with their cheap shots, late hits and other questionable character play. The game went into overtime in which no one scored, and the much ballyhooed shootout followed the five minute, 3-on-3 overtime period. During The Sports Drive interview by Lance Lahnert with Goalie Max Gutjahr Thursday afternoon, Gutjahr said loud and proud he likes shootouts, he relishes shootouts, and he did not disappoint.
Gutjahr shut out Lone Star during the shootout, with Cleary and Jase Sofo puting the biscuits in the basket in the first two rounds to seal the Wranglers win. Gutjahr stopped 11-of-13 shoots for the victory, and stopped 38-of-42 shots for the weekend. Gutjahr moves to 7-3-0 for the season.
The season thus far
The Amarillo Wranglers are 9-3-0 (18 points), and are in a first place tie with the Odessa Jackalope’s in the NAHL South division. There are three words that define this team thus far this season. Physical, Physical and Physical. Head coach Harry Mahood has said all season that these players have a chip on their shoulder and have something to prove. That’s exactly what they’re doing with good old fashion smash mouth Hockey, peppered with a little finesse.
The Amarillo Wranglers are off this weekend before returning home to face the Shreveport Mudbugs on Nov. 5-6, at the Budweiser Bullpen.
Please watch for Tommy Tee’s weekly column during the hockey season that bring a unique perspective covering the Amarillo Wranglers.