SANDRA PRUSINA – 03.13.2023

It’s tough not to smile when you look at the AHL standings and see the ‘x’ by the Wranglers — first year in a new city, new name and identity, and the first team to qualify for the 2023 playoffs. What a journey it’s been since Calgary’s inaugural game in October.

Although there’s still a month of regular-season action left, you can tell the Wranglers are already focused on polishing their details and relying on their depth in hopes of a long playoff run. Their recent two-game home set versus the Colorado Eagles was an excellent example.

Regardless of the sport, anything can happen in the postseason, so seeing Oscar Dansk back between the pipes was a sigh of relief. He and Dustin Wolf have formed an incredible tandem, and you could see how thrilled the latter was last Tuesday when Dansk made 34 saves to pick up his sixth victory of the season after missing more than a month because of a lower-body injury. The skaters gave him a lot of run support, five goals over 40 minutes, allowing Dansk to settle back in and get comfortable.

The 5-2 win over Colorado also saw Calgary’s depth shine. Blueliner Josh Brook scored his first goal of the season and put together his first multi-point performance since joining the Wranglers. Workhorse Kevin Rooney was finally rewarded on the scoresheet with a goal and an assist to grab first-star honours.

The next night, scoring was held to a minimum. The Wranglers didn’t find the back of the net until the third period when Ben Jones scored his 14th of the year to tie the game, and Cole Schwindt snapped his seven-game pointless drought with the powerplay winner. Again, Dustin Wolf was incredible, holding down the fort with 39 saves, leading Calgary to its 40th win of the season — the first team to hit the mark this campaign.

The Wranglers are clicking at the right time. But there’s still plenty of work for this group, even though they’ve punched a playoff ticket. The division champions earn a bye to the best-of-five division semifinals. However, the Firebirds are hot on the Wranglers’ tail with games in hand. So you can bet their final regular-season contest on April 5 in Coachella Valley will be a doozy with crucial points up for grabs.

Odds and ends:

In this edition of jersey spotting, nothing out of the ordinary caught our eye from the broadcast booth. To be fair, there were only two home games to consider. But – more and more Wranglers jerseys are popping up at the Scotiabank Saddledome … Just four regular-season home games remain but there’s a lot to look forward to including Fan Appreciation Night on March 26, so the incredible Herd can be recognized. CLICK FOR TICKETS.