Bulls buck off Wranglers
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Wranglers have had a rough go of it to start the 2019 season.
They were 0-4 going into Saturday night’s game against the undefeated Pueblo Bulls. The Wranglers had a goal differential of -43. In game two of a three-game weekend series, the Bulls speared Steamboat with a 9-3 win on Saturday, Oct. 19.
With all that on their shoulders, it’s no wonder the Wranglers got chippy in the early goings on Saturday.
“It’s just a heated rivalry we have,” Steamboat team captain Adam Albert said. “They’re a new team, they’re trying to make a name for themselves. This is our second year. It’s just part of the game. You got a lot of big boys, kids that have a lot of testosterone in their systems and just want to go. Me being one of those guys, it’s just fun. It makes the game fun.”
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With a 0-4 deficit in the first, Albert, a defender, got called for boarding, and his hard hit brought about some retaliation from the Bulls. The shoving and shouting resulted in two Steamboat penalties. Albert went to the box for boarding for four minutes, while forwards Cooper Walsh joined him with a two-minute penalty.
With 2:33 remaining in the frame, the Wranglers buckled down on the penalty kill, preventing the Bulls from scoring again before the break.
When the teams took to the ice again, Pueblo had 1:27 left on the man advantage. A minute into that, Nic Pedersen got called for roughing after running into a downed Wrangler. Mere seconds after emerging from the box, Albert scored to put the Wranglers on the board.
After another Bulls goal, Steamboat forward Cooper Walsh scored with traffic in front of Pueblo goaltender Lane Skon.
Just one more got by Skon, as he reached for a raised shot from forward Jacob Rezac with two minuets left in the game, he batted the puck behind him and into the net.
The goals bring Steamboat’s scoring total to seven on the year.
The offense started clicking, but the defense still struggled. Less than two minutes after Walsh made the score 5-2, Bulls forward Ondrej Blaha scored his second of the night from the slot off a slick pass from Kale Lone.
Blaha completed the hat trick at the 2:20 mark in the second stanza. McQuistan was put on hatty watch as he netted his second at the 16:32 mark in the third.
“We came out a little flat, but halfway through the game, we picked it up a little bit, started banging the body,” Wranglers head coach Kenny Simmons said. “We were feeding off the crowd. Big night tonight with pink the rink. It’s fun for everyone.”
Since the Wranglers’ energy wasn’t translating into solid play, Max Riebe decided to try to channel it through physicality. With 7:12 left to play, he dropped the gloves with Tomas Viskot of Pueblo. To the crowd’s dismay, the two were separated before actually getting to use their bare fists.
Although the teams exchanged a large handful of penalties due to the physicality, Simmons was fine with it.
“That’s something we’ve been preaching the last two weeks, playing physical,” Simmons. “We’re wearing pads for a reason. … It’s got to start from the puck drop. It can’t start in the third period. It’s got to start right away and I think the boys see that now.”
Pueblo 9, Steamboat 3
PB 4 3 2 — 9
SW 0 2 1 — 3
PB – Brock McQuistan, 18:58
PB – Connor Whittington, 17:21
PB – Ondrej Blaha, 10:05
PB – Dan Whittet, 4:32
SW – Adam Albert (Cooper Walsh),18:15
PB – Dane Whittet, 15:44
SW – Walsh, 14:06PB –Blaha (Kale Lone), 12:14
PB – Blaha (Nic Pederson), 2:20
PB – McQuistan, 16:32
PB – Whittington (Kale Lone, Zach Wills), 9:05
SW – Jacob Rezac (Oliver Diasabeygunawardena, Tanner Ripley), 2:20
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