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Series preview: Calgary Wranglers look to regain top league spot in Tucson Roadrunners series

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Photo credit:Terence Leung/Calgary Wranglers
Paige Siewert
3 months ago
The Calgary Wranglers had a busy week last week of hockey and this week is the same story. They went 3-1-0 in two home games and two road games last week and will play all four upcoming games at the Saddledome. The first of their games will be against the Tucson Roadrunners. They’ll play on back-to-back nights and look to get some of their mojo back after falling 4-0 in their last game to the Ontario Reign.

Projected lineups

Calgary
Dryden Hunt – Cole Schwindt – Matt Coronato
Emilio Pettersen – Clark Bishop – Ilya Nikolaev
Rory Kerins – Ben Jones – Adam Klapka
Lucas Ciona – Brett Sutter – William Stromgren
 
Jonathan Aspirot – Jordan Oesterle 
Ilya Solovyov – Brady Lyle
Yan Kuznetsov – Colton Poolman
 
Dustin Wolf
Oscar Dansk
Tucson 
Dylan Guenther – Nathan Smith – Josh Doan 
Zach Sanford – Ryan McGregor – Cameron Hebig
John Leonard – Travis Barron – Austin Poganski
Curtis Douglas – Reece Vitelli – Hunter Drew
 
Patrik Koch – Victor Soderstrom
Max Szuber – Cameron Crotty
Peter DiLiberatore – Montana Onyebuchi
 
Anson Thorton 
Matthew Villalta

Leaders

Calgary 
Ben Jones – 14GP, 4G, 9A
Adam Klapka – 14GP, 5G, 5A
Emilio Pettersen – 14GP, 3G, 7A
Tucson 
Dylan Guenther – 13GP, 5G, 8A
Nathan Smith – 12GP, 2G, 7A
Justin Kirkland – 7GP, 1G, 7A

Notes and expectations

The Wranglers will likely be without Jonathan Aspirot for at least the first game of this series, if not both. He was ejected from his last game against the Ontario Reign with a match penalty. Because that call was involved, he is automatically suspended and is pending an official ruling from the AHL. He fought Samuel Helenius of the Reign in the last half of the third period and when he was unable to land any punches he pulled Helenius by the knee and slammed him to the ice. It was a very obvious end to his night for the Wranglers.
Moving on to this series, the Roadrunners have been okay to start their season. They rank seventh in the Pacific division and have a 7-5-0-1 record in 13 games played so far. The Wranglers still sit at the top of the division but have lost their league title to the Hersey Bears for the time being. They are second overall after their loss but not in any position of huge worry.
Now one loss isn’t cause for concern but the reality of Calgary’s team is the guys who started the year in the middle of the pack have to do everything in their power to elevate their game. When you look at league scoring, no active Wranglers crack the top 20 for points, goals or assists. If that hasn’t already caught up with them, it will.
Not to discount the top scorers they have, but they don’t have any players even at a point per game. Ben Jones narrowly misses that with 13 points in their 14 games so far. However, they had the luxury of highly skilled players like Matthew Phillips and Jakob Pelletier last year to be clutch goal scorers and very consistent. This year, they have to work for it while their top players are pursuing their NHL careers.
There was a noticeable switch in the last few games that has brought some younger players like Ilya Nikolaev and Rory Kerins in the lineup in place of Mitch McLain and Alex Gallant. Both of those vets are going to want their spots back so the young guys, especially the ones on the cusp need to remain consistent. Which they have. The lines have been the most consistent they have been all season and in order for it to stay that way, they need to produce.
There really aren’t many “easy” games for the Wranglers in this league and keeping shots between 19-21 like they did in their last two games won’t give them the best chances to win. Even with the goaltenders they have. Calgary needs to start this week off on the right foot and not let early season fatigue get the best of them. The best thing this team can do is have two great starts and two complete games in these next couple of days. If they’re playing like that, let the results fall where they may. Just don’t get outworked.
The first meeting of the season between the Roadrunners and Wranglers starts on Tuesday evening and continues into Wednesday. Both games will be at 7:00 p.m. MT at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Tickets are still available or you can stream these games for a fee on AHL.tv. FlamesNation contributors Mike Gould and I will have updates on X (formerly Twitter).

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