Wednesday, May 2, 2012 | 12:18 a.m.
The Wranglers scored the opening three goals of Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals to defeat the Aces 3-2 and take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“They got off to a good start,” Wranglers head coach Ryan Mougenel said. “(Eric) Lampe’s line was real good in their own end. That translated into some scoring chances for them going the other way. They were fortunate enough to capitalize on them.”
Las Vegas center Judd Blackwater scored less than two minutes into the game to give the Wranglers an early 1-0 advantage.
“We talked about getting shots and getting shots through,” Mougenel said. “That was an early one and it got us off on the right foot.”
The Wranglers added to their lead midway through the first period on Lampe’s fifth goal of the playoffs. Lampe collected an Adam Miller pass off the boards and scooped the puck past Alaska goalie Gerald Coleman.
“Miller saw him streaking down the weak side and fired the puck off the board, where Lampe then shoveled it into the net,” Mougenel said.
Wranglers left wing Peter MacArthur extended the lead to 3-0 early in the second period on an assisted goal from Josh Lunden and Mike Madill. The three-goal lead tied the team’s largest lead of the series.
Aces forward Dan Kissel scored a goal with 55 seconds left in the second period to trim the deficit to 3-1. The score remained 3-1 until five seconds left in regulation, when Alaska defenseman Chad Anderson scored his first goal of the postseason.
“We’ll celebrate this one for a short while, but we’ve got a huge job ahead of us tomorrow,” Mougenel said. “This was a big one but we’ve still got a long way to go.”
Stars of the game: 1. Eric Lampe (1 goal, 1 assist); 2. Judd Blackwater (1 goal); 3. Joe Fallon (24 saves).
Next up: The Wranglers will have a chance to close out the Aces and advance to the Kelly Cup Finals at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday in Anchorage. The winner of the series will play the winner of the Eastern Conference finals between the Kalamazoo Wings and the Florida Everblades for the league championship.