The Sylvan Lake Wranglers are hot off back-to-back pre-season wins and are ready to take on a new COVID-friendly season.
The junior hockey team is ready for their season opener on Oct. 30, where they are looking to wrangle some vipers in a rival match.
In the first official game of the 2020 season, the Sylvan Lake Wranglers are hosting the Red Deer Vipers.
Wranglers Head Coach Pay Garritty the rival game will be an interesting way to start the season.
“When we were shut done in March we were playing Red Deer… we just finished playing them in the pre-season, and now we are going to be playing them for our first four games,” Garritty said.
The Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) is changing the schedule this season on account of COVID-19.
In an effort to still have a season, the league is hosting cohort games throughout the season.
How it will work is a team will play four games against one team, and then have 14 days where no games are played. This will continue throughout the season.
The entire league is on the same schedule, meaning when the Wranglers are on their 14 day break, the entire league is as well.
“We are only playing 20 games this season. Normally we play 28 games… A difference of 18 games is pretty significant,” Garritty said.
While the season is looking completely different, Garritty says there are still a number of positives to take away from the change.
The first positive is that the team will have a chance to recuperate after each four game mini-series.
“When we got shut down last year we had play 57 games, and the guys were a little worse for wear…” Garritty said.
“This way we will play our four games, and then take time to practise and recharge for the next set.”
The other positive, according to Garritty, is that spectators are allowed at the game.
The junior hockey league is British Columbia is not allowing spectators at games, so Garritty is taking this as a win.
While spectators are allowed, the number has been limited. Currently only 100 people per game.
“We are just happy to have fans in the stands… We are hopefully that as things go we’ll see it loosen up and we can welcome back more fans.”
Garritty continued to say the team will adjust to the new season, and will try to look at the positives to come out of the year.
“Obviously this is not optimal, but considering the situation we are just happy to have a season.”
This season, there are 23 players on the Sylvan Lake Wranglers’ roster, 15 of those players are returning from last season.
“There are a lot of unknowns this year, but we are just trying to look at the positives.”
The Sylvan Lake Wranglers will meet the Red Deer Vipers at home on Oct. 30 at 8 p.m.