Wranglers 2 Knights 1
SHERWOOD PARK — The Blackfalds Wranglers didn’t come into the Keystone Cup tournament as big-time favourites and they certainly weren’t the fan favourites in Sunday’s championship game.
No matter, the Wranglers shrugged off all doubters by slipping past the host Sherwood Park Knights 2-1 to capture the Western Canada junior B hockey championship.
David Jantzie potted the winning goal at 12:39 of the third period and goaltender Tanner Schalin turned in a stunning 49-save performance as the Wranglers prevailed. Karson French also scored for Blackfalds, erasing a 1-0 deficit with a second-period marker.
The Wranglers fired 34 shots at Knights stopper Travis Ulliac.
The victory capped a topsy-turvy season for Blackfalds, which lost to the Red Deer Vipers in the second round of the Heritage League playoffs, but as the co-winner of the league’s regular-season title was granted a semifinal berth since the HJBHL has only three conferences.
The Wranglers eventually fell to the Okotoks Bisons in the league championship series, but gained automatic entry to the provincial championship tournament at Leduc, where they beat the defending champion Beaumont Chiefs 2-1 in the final.
Blackfalds was 4-1-0 in round-robin play at the Keystone Cup, clinching a spot in the final with 8-5 and 11-0 wins over the Arborg, Man., Ice Dogs and Thunder Bay, Ont., Northern Hawks Saturday.
Jason Bell and Bryce Veuger each sniped a pair of goals against Arborg, with Kyle Maas, Jared Williams, Kevin Liner and Jared Guilbault also connecting for Blackfalds. Netminder Layne Swier made 31 saves.
Schalin stopped all 23 shots he faced in the one-sided conquest of Thunder Bay.
Veuger, Maas and Jared Lenz each tallied twice and Bell, Greg Gross, Dalen Kolybaba, Jared Ramstead and Wyatt Fraser also connected.