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April 16, 2014

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Wranglers celebrate 3-2 OT win in home opener

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STEPHEN SYLVANIE / SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Just 30 seconds into overtime, Scott Campbell pounces on a deflection and drives it past Stockton goaltender Tyler Bunz for a 3-2 Las Vegas victory on Friday night.

Wranglers vs. Thunder

Channing Boe, left, and Tony DeHart trade punches during a second period bout on Friday night. Launch slideshow »

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Las Vegas Wranglers head coach Ryan Mougenel doesn’t want his team overthinking. He prefers them to stick with a keep-it-simple frame of mind.

That’s exactly what the Wranglers did in the final 20 minutes en route to 3-2 overtime victory over the Stockton Thunder at the Orleans Arena on Friday.

“We need to be a simple hockey team,” Mougenel said. “That’s something our team needs to embrace.”

Scott Campbell scored the game-winner after Sean Wiles stole the puck from a Thunder defender at the blue line. Wiles had the goalie on a one-on-one breakaway, and took a shot. He missed, but luckily for him, Campbell was right behind him.

Campbell tapped in the puck, sending the home crowd home happy, as the Wranglers improved to 2-0 on the season.

“I knew Wiles was in the clear. I wanted to be up there, and, hopefully, celebrate with him if he scored,” Campbell said. “We were fortunate to bang that one in there.”

The Thunder (1-2) entered the game fifth in average penalty minutes in the ECHL. It was no different against the Wranglers, as Stockton committed five penalties — four minor and one major for fighting.

The first three power plays for Las Vegas went fruitless. Then in the third period down 2-1, the Wranglers finally put it together when Chris Francis scored to level the game at the 11:15 mark.

And per Mougenel’s mantra for Friday’s game, it was a simple play that got it done.

“It was a shot and a deflection,” the coach said. “We had a lot of great looks and great puck movement (on our other power plays, but) execution wasn’t there.”

The goal ignited the announced crowd of 5,656 who had come to open the Wranglers’ 10th season in Las Vegas.

“(The power-play goal) was what gave us the final boost at the end and in overtime,” Wiles said.

Sure enough, the game winner came early in overtime. Just 30 seconds into the extra period, Wiles made the great defensive play, leading to Campbell’s goal just as a Thunder defender came crashing behind him to knock the net off of the line.

“It caught me off guard. I think Wiles tried to stuff the five-hole,” Campbell said. “It went off the post and sat there. I was going to the net hard, and poked it in before they knocked the net off.”

Las Vegas outshot Stockton 25-19, including a 17-10 advantage in the final two periods.

Teigan Zahn and Phillipe Cornet scored goals for Stockton, while keeper Tyler Bunz made 22 saves.

Stars of the game: 1. Scott Campbell (1 goal, game-winner); 2. Nolan Julseth-White (2 assists); 3. Judd Blackwater (1 goal).

Next up: The Wranglers finish up their two-game set with Stockton with a game Saturday at 7 p.m. Las Vegas looks to improve to 3-0 on the young season.

Final word:“Our d-zone was unorganized at times, and it’s early in the season. We have to shore that up. Obviously, that’s what video is for.” — Wranglers coach Ryan Mougenel on early defensive struggles.

Paul Delos Santos can be reached at 990-2416 or mailto:[email protected]”> [email protected]”> [email protected]. Follow Paul on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/pauliedelos.”>  tw

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