Stephen Sylvanie / Special to the Sun
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 | 11:35 p.m.
After seeing a two goal lead disappear, the Las Vegas Wranglers scored two goals in the final three minutes of action to prevail with a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Eagles Tuesday at the Orleans Arena.
“The last three games we have outshot teams and dictated the play for the most part,” Wranglers head coach Ryan Mougenel said. “We just haven’t been getting those bounces. Tonight we made the plays at the end.”
The Wranglers have had their struggles in the first period this season at home, but not Tuesday night as they struck quickly with two goals in the first 5:21 of play.
Forward Eric Lampe, who returned to the Wranglers Tuesday after a 13-game stint with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, opened the scoring for Las Vegas with his team-leading 35th goal of season at the 5:00 mark of the game.
“It’s nice having Lampe and Campbell back,” Mougenel said. “I think the familiarity was a little bit of the difference too. They found a way to get a big win.”
Less than 30 seconds later, the Wranglers added to their lead as right winger Ryan Weston put in a rebound goal from in front of the Eagles’ net.
After allowing two goals to Colorado to tie the game, the Wranglers regained the lead on an Adam Huxley slap shot from the left slot at the 17:11 mark of the second period.
Colorado tied the game at three goals apiece on an Alex Penner deflection near the Wranglers’ net with less than eight minutes remaining in regulation.
Las Vegas center Judd Blackwater, who got three stitches above his lip after taking a high stick to the face in the first period, scored the game-winning goal on a blast from the right circle with 2:54 remaining. Adam Miller and Jeff May were awarded assists on the goal.
“The playoffs are coming up. We have to get going,” Blackwater said. “I think it’s huge that we got guys back like Campbell and Lampe. They played a huge part in our win tonight. It’s good to get back on track.”
Wranglers forward Sean Wiles put the game out of reach as he broke free of the Colorado defense and beat Eagles goaltender Andrew Penner for his 10th goal of the season.
Stars of the game: 1. Judd Blackwater (1 goal, 1 assist); 2. Sean Wiles (1 goal, 1 assist); 3. Adam Miller (2 assists).
Lots of shots: After recording 43 shots against Bakersfield on Sunday, the Wranglers put 45 shots on net Tuesday for a 17 shot advantage over the Eagles. Forward Chris Francis led the team with eight shots on goal.
Power play struggles: The Wranglers had all seven of their power play opportunities killed against the Eagles. Coming into Tuesday’s game, the Wranglers ranked 15th in the league with a 16.5 percent success rate with a man advantage.
Next up: The Wranglers return to the ice Friday night at the Orleans Arena as they open a two-game set against Idaho with puck dropping at 7:05 p.m. The series will be the final two meetings of the year between the two squads.
Final Word: “I love that last goal by Wiles,” Mougenel said. “I waived him and brought him back. He’s been arguably one of our best players since I brought him back.”
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).