BRYAN WILSON – 10.13.2023

A great way to start.

The Wranglers kicked off the season with a 4-2 road win against the Moose at Canada Life Centre on Friday night.

Jeremie Poirier had a goal and three-points and was named the game’s First-Star.

Adam Klapka scored the game-winning goal and added a helper, while Cole Schwindt and Clark Bishop also tallied.

Dustin Wolf (1-0-0) turned aside 28 of 30 shots.

The Moose opened the scoring 1:07 into the game off a fortuitous bounce.

At the end of his shift, Nikita Chibrikov skated over centre and fluttered a puck into the corner on an intended dump-in, but it took a wicked right turn on the way and dribbled through the wickets of a surprised Wolf.

The Wranglers were in need of a momentum swing midway through the period, and Alex Gallant addressed that with authority when he dropped the mitts with Jeff Viel, as the two tee’d off for a spirited scrap.

Calgary began to generate chances in the offensive zone towards the end of the period, but Manitoba netminder Oskari Salminen shut the door in the opening 20 minutes.

It was a back-and-forth middle frame with both teams trading chances. Manitoba was outshooting Calgary 18-7 at one point in the period.

Wolf stood tall, though, making multiple timely saves to keep the score close.

The Wranglers continued to apply pressure in the late stages of the frame and would finally get rewarded at the 14:09 mark.

Strong board-work by Connor Zary caused a turnover behind the Moose’ net, as Zary worked the puck up to Colton Poolman at the blueline, who then sent a quick pass over to Poirier.

Poirier walked in and sent a low slap-shot through the five-hole of Salminen to cut into the lead.

Then, with a powerplay chance at the tail-end of the period, Schwindt took a pass from Martin Pospisil and wired home a shot off the bar and in to even the score with five seconds remaining in the frame.

Calgary took control in the third period.

On an early powerplay (3:23), Klapka fought to keep the puck in the offensive zone and dropped it to William Stromgren, who made a nifty, elusive play along the half-wall and flipped a backhand pass to Klapka, who slid into the high slot and ripped home a wrist shot to give Calgary the lead.

The Wranglers would add to that a few minutes later (6:29) when Poirier sent a shot on goal and the rebound popped out onto Bishop’s stick, who banged home it home to extend the advantage.

The Moose pulled their goaltender with four minutes remaining but couldn’t find an answer for Wolf, who was perfect in the period.

The two teams will face-off again on Sunday afternoon in Winnipeg. Puck drop is 1 p.m. (MTN).