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NA Now: Amarillo Wranglers

August 8, 2023

The NA Now series features a look at all 32 teams in the NAHL for the 2023-24 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. NA Now looks into each NAHL team including interviews with all the head coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including taking a look at their strengths as a team and thoughts on the league. It will also take a look back on last season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.

Amarillo Wranglers

Head Coach: Ryan Anderson (1st season)

2022-23 record: 60 GP, 34-23-3, 71 pts. (4th in the South Division)

2022-23 leading scorer: Chase Davis and Pierce Patterson (57 points)

2023 Playoffs: Lost to Oklahoma in the South Division Semi-Finals, 3-0

2023-24 Division: South

First regular season game: Wednesday, September 13th vs. Janesville Jets

Home opener: Friday, September 29th vs. Corpus Christi IceRays

The 2022-23 season was an exciting one for the Amarillo Wranglers who had a seven-win and 13-point improvement from the season before. Despite the 34 wins, the Wranglers found themselves in a tight spot as the regular season ended. The Wranglers were 10 points back from the last spot in the playoffs with nine games to go, meaning even if they won all nine remaining games, the New Mexico Ice Wolves, who had occupied one of the top four playoff spots for most of the season, couldn’t win more than three games for Amarillo to qualify for the postseason. One month later, and that is exactly what happened. The Ice Wolves went 3-5-1 over the course of their final nine games, while the Wranglers went on an absolute tear, outscoring their opponents 43-11 in nine straight wins and qualified for the fourth and final playoff spot by one point.

In the Robertson Cup Playoffs, the Wranglers put up a good fight against the eventual Robertson Cup Champion Oklahoma Warriors but were swept in three games in the South Semi-Finals. Nevertheless, the 34 wins for the Wranglers was the most for an NAHL team in Amarillo since the 2019-20 Bulls team won 39. The Wranglers also ended up with eight NCAA commitments during the season, which included NAHL Defenseman of the Year and Army commit Pierce Patterson, who led all NAHL defensemen with 57 points.

The action for the Wranglers continued in the off-season as a major shift in personnel was announced. Harry Mahood, who had been the Head Coach and General Manager for the past two seasons, was named the President of Hockey Operations, and taking over behind the bench as the new Head Coach is longtime Lone Star Brahmas assistant coach Ryan Anderson.

Anderson brings with him a wealth of experience and success from his time with the Lone Star and Texas Brahmas. As the head coach of the Fraser Cup Championship-winning team in the North American 3 Hockey League, Anderson exhibited a remarkable ability to develop young talent and lead his squad to 74 victories in only 87 games played, finishing at the top spot of the division for two consecutive seasons.

The Wranglers do return some key players to the line-up from a season ago. They include brothers and forwards Ben and Jack Ivey, who are both committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Army. Ben Ivey will serve as team captain for the 2023-24 Wranglers and had 46 points in 60 games a season ago, while Jack Ivey had 27 points last season. Other key returners include forwards Jack McDonald (39 points), Connor McNaughton (18 points) and defenseman Kyle DeMarco (12 points).

“I’m so excited and couldn’t be happier about the opportunity. I enjoyed some very good and successful times both with the Lone Star and Texas Brahmas programs, but I’m excited to get this next chapter going. Spending the time in the NA3HL was invaluable to me getting this opportunity in the NAHL. You are managing an entire team, including ownership, players, logistics, host families, everything…,” said Anderson. “I think I’m inheriting something special created by Harry Mahood and there is some very positive momentum going into this season. They have showed great trust in me, so I’m excited to see what happens.”

Watch: NA Now video with Ryan Anderson

As for success on the ice in 2023-24, Anderson won’t be straying far from the formulas that have worked with the Brahmas or the Wranglers in the past.

“We want to be hard to play against and we want to play all 200 feet of the ice and never let up. I think we have a great core group of guys coming back that can provide the right kind of leadership. We also need to make sure we take care of our own end and that means good goaltending and good team defense. There may be nights that scoring is tough, but the defense is there every single game,” said Anderson. “You don’t get a night off in the South Division. Our preparation Monday through Thursday is going to be key going into the weekend. The players and coaches are very good in the South and there is never a night off.”

Next up: Anchorage Wolverines

 
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