STEPHEN SYLVANIE / SPECIAL TO THE SUN
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 | 10:55 p.m.
Las Vegas Wranglers fans were nearly treated to a miraculous comeback in the regular season home finale Tuesday night against the Bakersfield Condors, an unfortunate pattern that emerged throughout the final homestand.
On Fan Appreciation Night, the home fans endured a narrow defeat but did witness plenty of offense, with 11 goals scored in the game, including two hat tricks, and a penalty shot goal.
At 1:36 into the first period, Wrangler antagonist Adam Huxley was assessed with a five-minute major elbowing penalty, setting an ominous tone for the game. The Wranglers killed the first four minutes before Bakersfield Condors center Chase Schaber scored on the powerplay, his first of four tallies on the night. Less than a minute later, the Condors would score again, this time by left wing Andrew Carroll, giving Bakersfield a quick 2-0 lead.
The second period would see five goals scored, the first being netted by Wranglers center Chris Francis, the first of three for him in the game. Jordan Knackstedt started a bit of a scoring flurry for Bakersfield, netting his 18th of the year at 5:24 of the second. Chase Schaber would net his 13th and 14th goals of the year, completing his hat trick in the second, giving Bakersfield a 5-1 lead.
Fifteen seconds into the third period, Francis scored his second goal on the night, closing the Condors lead 5-2. Wrangler Chad Nehring was hooked on a breakaway toward the Bakersfield net and was rewarded with a penalty shot. On the penalty shot approach, Nehring made a slight hesitation move before firing the puck between the legs of Condors goaltender Laurent Brossoit to bring Las Vegas to within two scores. At 16:42 of the third period, Condor Chase Schaber netted his fourth goal of the night to pad the Bakersfield lead 6-3. Once again, the Wranglers found last-minute heroics within the final two minutes of the game as Shawn Skelley scored his 11th of the season, and Francis completed his hat trick with just :30 remaining to bring the Wranglers within one, though time would run out on the comeback bid, leaving Bakersfield with the 6-5 win.
Las Vegas will wrap up the 2013-14 season on the road, after a five-game road trip that takes them through Bakersfield, Utah, and Stockton.
The Wranglers will be facing a yet undetermined opponent in the 2014 Kelly Cup Playoffs, and the dates for the first round games 3 and 4 (and 5 if necessary) are also yet to be determined.