Amarillo, Texas, may not be the first location that comes to mind when thinking about minor hockey, but in recent years, this small city has been making a name for itself in the world of hockey. The Amarillo Wranglers, a junior ice hockey team, have been on a meteoric rise in the North American junior leagues, solidifying themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Their impressive record, skilled players, and dedicated coaching staff have put them on a path towards greatness, carving out a dynasty in the making.
The Beginning of the Journey
The Amarillo Wranglers, also known as the Wranglers, were established in 2016 as part of the North American 3 Hockey League (3HL). The 3HL is a tier-III junior ice hockey league that serves as a developmental level for players aged 16–20. The Wranglers’ first season was not impressive, finishing with a record of 18 wins and 24 losses. However, this was only the beginning.
The team’s owner, head coach, and general manager saw potential in the young players and made a commitment to building a winning team. In the following seasons, the Wranglers’ record improved significantly, and in 2019–2020, they finished the regular season with a record-breaking 41 wins and 6 losses, clinching the top spot in the 3HL’s South Division.
A Winning Culture
The success of the Amarillo Wranglers can be attributed to the strong culture that has been cultivated within the organization. The team’s ownership, led by President and General Manager Mike Sanderson, has invested in both the team’s facilities and staff. With the addition of a hockey-specific training facility and a dedicated coaching staff, the Wranglers have been able to attract top-level talent and groom their players for success.
Head coach and former NHL player Rocky Russo has instilled a winning mentality in his players, emphasizing the importance of hard work, dedication, and a team-first mindset. This approach has paid off, as the Wranglers have consistently been one of the top teams in the 3HL since Russo’s arrival in 2017.
The Amarillo Wranglers have not only had a winning culture but also an impressive roster of players. Many of their players have gone on to play at the collegiate level, some even earning scholarships to top Division I schools. The Wranglers’ success in developing players has not gone unnoticed, as they have had a record number of players selected in the National Hockey League’s (NHL) entry draft in recent years.
One standout player on the Wranglers’ roster is goaltender Charlie Glockner. In the 2020–2021 season, Glockner led the league with a 0.933 save percentage and was named goaltender of the year for the 3HL. He has since committed to playing for the University of Notre Dame in the prestigious NCAA Division I Hockey East Conference.
Building a Hockey Community in Amarillo
The success of the Amarillo Wranglers has not only impacted the team but also the surrounding community. The team has brought a new level of excitement and interest to the sport of hockey in Amarillo, with dedicated fans filling the stands at every game. The team has also made efforts to give back to the community, hosting youth hockey clinics and working with local schools to promote the sport to young athletes.
The Amarillo Wranglers’ future looks bright, with no signs of slowing down. As they continue to develop top-level talent and attract fans to the sport, the team is set to join the North American Hockey League (HL), the top-tier junior hockey league in the U.S., for the 2021–2022 season. This will bring Amarillo onto an even bigger stage and provide their players with a stepping stone to college and professional hockey.
The Amarillo Wranglers’ rise to success in the junior hockey world has been nothing short of remarkable. Their strong culture, skilled players, and dedicated coaching staff have paved the way for a dynasty in the making. As they make the leap to the HL and continue to develop top-level talent, all eyes will be on Amarillo, Texas, as a new powerhouse in the world of hockey.