Calgary Wranglers 2023-24 season preview
Photo credit:Candice Ward/Calgary Wranglers
1 month ago
It’s been a long five months since the Calgary Wranglers ended their season in the playoffs against the Coachella Valley Firebirds, but we have finally made it to October. AHL hockey is coming back to Calgary and kicks off on Oct. 13. Unfortunately, we have to be a little more patient to see the Wranglers in person as their home opener isn’t until Oct. 28. The Wranglers have big shoes to fill after their outstanding inaugural season but luckily for them, the shoes to fill are their own.
Mitch McLain, Brett Sutter, Ilya Nikolaev, Ben Jones, Clark Bishop, Alex Gallant, Rory Kerins, Parker Bell, Mark Duarte, William Stromgren, Lucas Ciona, Connor Zary, Emilio Pettersen, Martin Pospisil, Ben Jones, Cole Schwindt, Adam Klapka
Colton Poolman, Brady Lyle, Yan Kuznetsov, Jarrod Gourley, Jeremie Poirier, Nick DeSimone, Will Riedell, Sam Jardine, Jonathan Aspirot, Ilya Solovyov
Dustin Wolf, Oscar Dansk, Connor Murphy
*Injured – (Long-term)
Kevin Rooney, Jakob Pelletier
Calgary’s new AHL team did almost as much as they could in their inaugural season just shy of taking home the Calder Cup. They held the top spot in the Pacific Division for the majority of the season, clinched the league by the end of the year and made it to the Division Finals of the Calder Cup Playoffs before their season ended in an overtime decision.
They had the league’s MVP between the pipes for them, the Coach of the Year behind the bench and a variety of other individual standouts in the rookie and scoring categories. The Wranglers were represented at the All-Star game with three representatives including head coach Mitch Love, goaltender Dustin Wolf and standout forward Matthew Phillips.
In 2022-23, the Wranglers finished with an outstanding regular season record of 51-17-3-1 and went 5-2-2 in the playoffs.
Matthew Phillips – 36G, 40A, 76P
Connor Zary – 21G, 37A, 58P
Ben Jones – 17G, 37A, 54P
Nick DeSimone – 8G, 38A, 46P
Emilio Pettersen – 19G, 25A, 44P
Goaltending at a glance
Dustin Wolf – 55 GP, 42-10-2 record, 2.09 GAA, 0.932 SV%
Oscar Dansk – 17GP, 8-6-2 record, 2.75 GAA, 0.905 SV%
Daniil Chechelev – 2GP, 1-1-0 record, 3.37 GAA, 0.881 SV%
This year’s expectations
The Wranglers’ bar was set very high after their outstanding season last year. To give them a reasonable evaluation, I’d put the team’s goals as trying to match what they did last year and continue to improve on their depth in the playoffs. However, there may be a lapse in talent this year, even if just temporary.
Most of the core remains the same but with Jakob Pelletier and Kevin Rooney for sure gone due to injury and surgery recovery for at least a few months, Matthew Phillips in Washington lighting it up and other key players on the shortlist for call-ups, it might come down to the guys that were typical second pairings or third or fourth liners. These are going to be the most consistent guys skating for this team and will make or break their record.
It’s already been stated that Dustin Wolf will start the year in the AHL and there’s no telling at this point if that will be a long or short-term assignment. Wolf is expected to make it into NHL games this year and his absence from the Wranglers is sure to affect their performance. They still have goaltending depth to roll with and Oscar Dansk is expected to be the back-up for most of the season.
Without seeing a game in this new season yet, I would expect the Wranglers to still land within the top three in the Pacific Division. Coachella Valley should remain their top competition for league and division titles and as long as they carry over some foundational successes they had last year, they should still be a competitive team in this league.
The Calgary Wranglers open their season on Friday, Oct. 13 on the road against the Manitoba Moose.
Get your tickets for the FlamesNation Season Home Opener party, and come hang out with us at Greta Bar while we watch the Flames take on the Winnipeg Jets in their season opener!
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