As the inaugural season has come to a close, the Wranglers boast on-ice success in front of a passionate fanbase and a significant impact with their various community outreach programs.
On Ice Success:
The Wranglers ended their 2021-22 campaign with a 27-29-1-3 record, where they finished in sixth place in one of the toughest divisions in the NAHL. The 27-win result is even more impressive when you consider that the coaching staff of head coach Harry Mahood and assistant coach Cody Gylling finalized their initial roster in late August.
The Wranglers turned heads in the NAHL during the showcase when Latvian forward Kristaps Skrastins recorded eight goals and two assists in the four-game event in Blaine, MN. The red hot start carried over into the home-opening weekend in Amarillo, landing Skrastins the September ‘Forward of the Month’ award for the NAHL. In November, goaltender Max Gutjahr earned national attention by being named the NAHL ‘Goalie of the month’ when he posted a 7-and-1 record.
The fast-paced Wranglers captured the imagination of Amarillo as the hometown faithful showed up to the Civic Center averaging close to 2,000 people a night. The organization used the home games to honor members throughout the community with nights dedicated to veterans, non-profit organizations, first responders, and nurses. The widespread community support placed Amarillo with the fourth-best attendance in the 29-team league.
Hockey For Health:
Aside from on-ice success, the Wranglers coaching staff’s biggest priority is having a roster dedicated to community service and giving back to the communities in Amarillo and around the Panhandle. This community service attitude was front and center all season with the Wranglers’ partnership with Window on a Wider World. Through WOWW, the Wranglers visited schools throughout the Panhandle with their ‘Hockey for Health’ program, introducing students to the pillars of a healthy lifestyle.
Staff and players spend most mornings talking and playing interactive games with students, introducing them to different ways to stay healthy and to the sport of hockey. By the end of the season, the players and staff clocked 90 man-hours in schools. Amarillo hosted 1,500 students to a Thursday morning game against the Lone Star Brahmas in January.
Perhaps the most significant addition besides the Wranglers in Amarillo was the Ice Ranch on S. Grant Street. The additional sheet of ice proved beneficial for the NAHL team for practices and growing the game of hockey for the next generation. The growth of youth hockey in Amarillo was on display this season, and the Wranglers did their part in teaching the star players of the future.
The Wranglers hosted a handful of schools at the Amarillo Ice Ranch throughout the season. Players totaled an additional 18 man-hours teaching kids to skate during Ice Ranch visits. Between school visits, Ice Ranch visits, and the ‘Kids Day’ game, the Wranglers impacted 4,000 students in the Panhandle, introducing them to the game of hockey.
By the conclusion of the regular season, the Wranglers boasted six college commitments. Kristaps Skrastins was the first commitment for the Wranglers, signing with the University of New Hampshire, and Glebs Prohorenkovs announced his commitment to Niagra University soon after Skrastins.
Dominic Schimizzi made his commitment to Robert Morris University shortly after arriving in Aberdeen. Schimizzi had skated in 38 games for the Wranglers before announcing his commitment. Co-Captians Michael Spinner and Jayden Jensen made their commitments toward the end of the regular season. Spinner made his commitment to Saint John’s University, and Jensen committed to Lawerence University. Defenseman Oliver Bezick made his commitment back in 2019 and will be joining Michigan Tech University this fall.
More news is expected soon about the rest of the seniors announcing commitments to DI and DIII programs. The Wranglers anticipate graduating every senior to college hockey this fall.
Memorable performances on the ice and dedication to community service have highlighted the first season for the Amarillo Wranglers. With college commitments, the fourth-best attendance, and robust community outreach programs, Amarillo looks to build off of the success of the 2021-22 season.