Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011 | 12:28 a.m.
Idaho goaltender Jerry Kuhn saved 55 shots in regulation and overtime and another four in the shootout to help the Steelheads escape with a 3-2 victory over the Wranglers Friday night at the Orleans Arena.
“Their goaltender was outstanding, but we had a lot of open cages where we need to bear down,” Wranglers head coach Ryan Mougenel said. “Overall, I have absolutely no complaints on how hard our guys competed and how hard they played.”
With their first home game in 19 days, Las Vegas (10-6-1-3) started out slow as the Wranglers spotted Idaho a two-goal advantage in the opening period.
Idaho forward Patrick Kennedy started the scoring as he recorded his first professional goal at the 2:21 mark of the first period on his first shift as a member of the Steelheads.
The Steelheads took a 2-0 lead with 7:16 remaining in the first period when Marty Flichel fired a slap shot by Las Vegas goaltender Joe Fallon. Flichel was assisted by David Fredriksson on the power-play goal.
The Wranglers answered back with a power-play goal from forward Ryan Weston at the 15:46 mark of the first period to cut the Steelheads’ lead in half.
Following Weston’s goal, the ice was littered with hundreds of teddy bears to commemorate the team’s ninth annual Teddy Bear Toss, which benefits Sunrise Acres Elementary School in eastern Las Vegas.
The Wranglers tied the game at two goals apiece at the 12:30 mark of the second period on a Channing Boe slap shot that was rifled by Kuhn from just outside the left circle.
Despite outshooting Idaho, 52-14, in regulation, the game was sent into overtime after a scoreless third period in front of the crowd of 4,707 fans.
After a scoreless five-minute overtime frame, Chris Francis gave the Wranglers a 1-0 advantage in the shootout as he scored on Las Vegas’ first shot attempt.
The Steelheads, however, responded with two consecutive goals from Marc Rancourt and Jacob Cepis to take a 2-1 lead and Kuhn stopped Las Vegas’ final four shots of the shootout to secure the victory for Idaho.
Stars of the game: 1. Jerry Kuhn (55 saves in regulation and overtime, 6 saves in the shootout); 2. Channing Boe (1 goal); 3. Judd Blackwater (1 assist).
Top of Pacific: Despite the shootout loss, the Wranglers remain in first place in the Western Conference Pacific Division with 24 points. Las Vegas leads Ontario by two points and Stockton by three.
Control of the puck: The Wranglers controlled the puck the majority of the game as they had more than triple the amount of shots on goal as the Steelheads. Despite a 40-shot advantage, luck was not on the Wranglers side as they had four shots fire off the goal post.
Next up: The Wranglers return to the ice Saturday at 7:05 p.m. as they face the Steelheads in the second game of a two-game set at the Orleans Arena. It will be the sixth matchup between the two squads with Idaho currently holding a 3-2 advantage.
Final word: “We have a certain offensive confidence that we take into tomorrow’s game,” Mougenel said of his team’s puck control. “We have to learn to keep our foot on the gas and score goals. I’m excited about tomorrow.”
The Orleans Arena, a Boyd Gaming facility located just west of the Las Vegas Strip, is one of the nation’s leading mid-sized arenas, and was recently ranked No. 1 in the United States and No. 5 internationally among venues of similar size by Venues Today Magazine.
The Arena hosts more than 200 events each year, including concerts by top names like Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Van Halen, Brooks & Dunn, Black Eyed Peas, Akon and Rihanna; family favorites like The Harlem Globetrotters and Circus Spectacular; and a wide variety of sporting events, including NCAA basketball tournaments, the West Coast Conference and Western Athletic Conference Basketball Championships, mixed martial arts with Superior Cage Combat, and major motorsports events.
The arena serves as home to the Las Vegas Wranglers professional ECHL hockey team, the Las Vegas Legends professional indoor soccer team, and the Lingerie Football League’s Las Vegas Sin. Stay connected to the Orleans Arena on Facebook (www.facebook.com/orleansarena) and on Twitter (@orleansarena).