Calgary Wranglers series preview: Opening weekend against the Manitoba Moose
Photo credit:Candice Ward/Calgary Wranglers
1 month ago
The AHL’s reigning regular season champions are back to defend their title for another year and hopefully bring home some hardware. While some expected roster shifts have taken place over the off-season, the Wranglers still have a solid group of guys to go into the 2023-24 season. Calgary has the first few weeks to work on their road record beginning with a two-game series against the Manitoba Moose this weekend.
Forwards: Mitch McLain, Brett Sutter, Cole Schwindt, Ilya Nikolaev, Lucas Ciona, Ben Jones, Clark Bishop, Alex Gallant, Rory Kerins, Martin Pospisil, Adam Klapka, William Stromgren, Emilio Pettersen, Connor Zary
Defencemen: Jarrod Gourley, Jeremie Poirier, Colton Poolman, Ilya Solovyov, Nick DeSimone, Brady Lyle, Yan Kuznetsov, Sam Jardine, Jonathan Aspirot
Goalies: Dustin Wolf, Oscar Dansk, Connor Murphy
Forwards: Wyatt Bongiovanni, Nicholas Jones, Brad Lambert, Chaz Lucius, Danny Zhilkin, Nikita Chibrikov, Kristian Reichel, Parker Ford, C.J. Suess, Jeffrey Viel, Henri Nikkanen, Jeff Malott, Daniel Togersson, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Dominic Toninato, Carson Golder, Thomas Caron
Defencemen: Tyrel Bauer, Dawson Barteaux, Ashton Sautner, Simon Lundmark, Artemi Kniazev, Jimmy Oligny, Dean Stewart, Kyle Capobianco, Dmiry Kuzmin
Goalies: Oskari Salminen, Collin Delia
Leaders (last season)
Matthew Phillips – 66GP, 36G, 40A, 76P (Signed with Washington Capitals)
Connor Zary – 72GP, 21G, 37A, 58P
Ben Jones – 71GP, 17G, 37A 54P
Alex Limoges – 63GP, 20G, 34A, 54P (Signed with Washington Capitals)
Jansen Harkins – 44GP, 25G, 25A, 50P (Signed with Pittsburgh Penguins)
Leon Gawanke – 68GP, 20G, 25A, 45P (Signed with San Jose Sharks)
This first look at this year’s squad won’t necessarily pave the way for the season but will give the best look fans have had at this team in months. Last season, the Wranglers took about three games to get to their standard of play. Hopefully this year, they’re ready to go right out of the gate.
For the Wranglers, they are dealing with some regular absences from their lineup such as Matthew Phillips, Jakob Pelletier, Kevin Rooney, Walker Duehr, Dennis Gilbert and Dryden Hunt. The regular first line they had through the playoffs has now graduated to the NHL (Hunt), signed with another team (Phillips) or undergone surgery that will take him out for months (Pelletier).
However, starting against a team like the Moose may not be a bad thing. They don’t tend to play the Canadian teams too much coming from the Pacific Division. From the notes above, you can also see their top scorers are no longer with the team either. This gives room for new arrivals or young players to emerge in the same way the Wranglers will need theirs to.
The Wranglers are also adopting a new system behind the bench. Former head coach Mitch Love, was scooped up on an NHL job in Washington over the summer and Calgary brought on former Canucks assistant coach Trent Cull to lead the Wranglers this season. While they’ve had a few weeks to partake in camp and skate, there may be some in-game scenarios that need some cleaning up as they come up.
The Wranglers are settling into their second full season in the league and they will undoubtedly have a target on their back after their success last season. Especially with Dustin Wolf between the pipes for the time being. They will be one of the teams to beat and will need to continue to play the style of hockey they were so good at last year to have another successful season.
Their 2023-24 campaign kicks off on Friday, Oct. 13 when they take on the Manitoba Moose. The puck drop is at 6:00 p.m. MT for their season opener and their series continues into Sunday afternoon for a 1:00 p.m. MT game. You can stream these games for free on AHL.tv for their opening weekend free preview. FlamesNation contributors Mike Gould and I will also have game updates on X (formerly Twitter).
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