The Sylvan Lake Wranglers punched their ticket to the second round of the Heritage Junior Hockey League playoffs on Monday night.
After coming out on the winning end of the five-game series against the Rocky Rams, 3-1, the Wranglers advance to face the Red Deer Vipers.
Head Coach Pat Garritty said they knew going into the first round against Rocky that it was going to be a good series.
“They were in sixth place, only won 11 games, but they have played extremely well since Christmas,” said Garritty in a phone interview, adding the Rams had made some adjustments to make them a playoff team.
“It took everything to beat them three games to one,” continued Garritty. “They were very good, Rocky was very good.”
First round playoff action kicked off for the Wranglers at home on Feb. 11 when Sylvan Lake clinched the first win of the series 6-3.
Hitting the road on Feb. 14 the Rams were able to tie the series at one a piece with a score of 7-4.
Back at the NexSource Centre for Game 3 hockey fans packed the arena on Feb. 16.
With Rocky fans who had made the trek and local fans cheering on their respective teams the Wranglers fought to a 4-3 victory.
“The players were really, really excited to play in front of a home crowd like that,” Garritty said.
“That’s our biggest crowd of the season, so we just hope that we can continue on and then the excitement builds.”
The series was awarded to the Wranglers on the road with a 4-1 score at the end of Game 4.
Next up for the Wranglers is semi-finals where they are set to meet the rival Red Deer Vipers.
Garritty says Red Deer, who finished the regular season second in the north division, is a good team that is very well coached.
He added the Vipers are four lines deep and have excellent goaltending.
“We’re going to have to be very, very good, even better than we were in the last series,” said Garritty.
As of publication the round two schedule has yet to be released, but Game 1 is expected to be in Red Deer on Saturday night.
“We’ve got a great mix of players and they work hard, they work hard for each other and we’re just happy to be in the position we’re at and we know that it’s going to be a dog fight moving forward.”
This round of HJHL playoffs will be a best-of-seven series.