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December 17, 2014

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Goalie Joe Fallon forgets past, comes up big late in Wranglers win

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STEPHEN SYLVANIE / SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Wrangler goaltender Joe Fallon spreads the pads to stop Brett Perlini on a penalty shot attempt late in the third period of play on Friday, March 29, 2013, to keep the score tied 4-4.

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Defenseman Marc Cantin, left, guards Kyle DeLurelli as players battle for control of the puck in the corner on Friday night at the Orleans Arena. Launch slideshow »

Joe Fallon didn’t let past goals affect his performance when it mattered.

Despite allowing a quartet goals previously, Fallon stopped all five of Bakerfield’s shooters in the shotout, leading the Wranglers to a 5-4 shootout over the Condors on Friday inside the Orleans Arena.

“It was one of those games where you had to get through it,” said Fallon, who also stopped a penalty shot at the 18:04 mark to preserve a tie game. “We’re feeling pretty good (entering the playoffs).”

The Wranglers finished the season 37-30-2-3, and will get the next seven days to rest before starting their quest for the Kelly Cup.

Las Vegas is heading into the playoffs with a little bit of momentum, winning six of its last seven outings.

“Winning all these games is momentum, and that’s a big thing,” said Sean Wiles, who scored the equalizing goal at 11:08. “We’ll take all we can get.”

The Condors (22-43-6) gave Las Vegas everything it could handle, however. Bakersfield, the lone team not making the ECHL Western Conference playoffs, scored three goals in a span of two minutes to take a 3-1 lead midway through the second period.

To make matters worse, two of the goals were scored when the Condors were a man down.

“The guys just beat me,” said Fallon with a wry smile. “Coverage wasn’t good today. I’ll say that. I usually don’t say that about the team, but we were sleeping a lot during the game.”

Las Vegas evened things up early in the third period when Judd Blackwater scored his 19th goal of the season.

That tie was short-lived as Fallon was beat again when Greg Burgdoerfer scored his second goal of the night.

Las Vegas got the break it needed with nine minutes left to play.

Shortly after Art Bidlevskii was called for a holding-the-stick penalty, the Wranglers got the equalizer.

Andrew Sararuer, who also scored the lone goal of the shootout, fired a shot from the point. Wiles was right there to redirect the shot, which beat Scott Greenham to level the game at four.

“We were working it up top on the power play,” Wiles said. “The puck got to Andrew on the wall, and he had some time to walk to the middle. I just put my stick down, and he shot it off my stick.”

There were many near chances by both squads in the final nine minutes with high drama coming when Brett Perlini drew a penalty shot opportunity with 1:56 remaining.

Perlini came down, Fallon came out of net, and watched every move closely before using his right blocker to stop the puck and keep the game at four.

The save opened the door for the Wranglers to pick up another victory.

Three Stars: 1. Eric Lampe, Las Vegas (1 goal, 1 assist); 2a. Charlie Cook, Las Vegas (2 assists); 2b. Chris Francis, Las Vegas (2 assists).

Up Next: The Las Vegas Wranglers open up the ECHL Western Conference quarterfinals against the Stockton Thunder. Las Vegas will play in Stockton, Calif., for Games 1 and 2 against the Thunder on April 5 and 6. The Wranglers will host Games 3 and 4 on April 8 and 9. An if-necessary Game 5 would also be in Las Vegas on April 10.

Final Word: “Wins always matter. It’s always good to have the right frame of mind going into the playoffs.” ― Las Vegas coach Ryan Mougenel on his team’s recent strong play entering the playoffs.

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