Monday, March 29, 2010

Stockton rallies after Wranglers grab early lead

By Anthony Fenech

Monday, March 29, 2010 | 12:26 a.m.

With a minute left in Sunday’s game, Stockton Thunder left-winger Matt Robinson finished a hat trick and finished the Wranglers.

Robinson’s goal, his second of the third period, completed the second three-goal comeback for Stockton in the game.

“We had every opportunity to win,” Wranglers head coach Ryan Mougenel said. “Our guys did a great job responding and to have that turnover and lose that way, it’s tough.”

The Thunder now reclaim a one-point lead over the Wranglers in the National Conference points standings.

“I’m just proud of how we responded,” he said. “We came in here and got 3 out of 6 points. Was it 5 points? No, but we’re plugging away.”

Goals by Chris Neiszner, Alex Bourret and Greg Collins gave Las Vegas an early three-goal lead.

Neiszner’s game-opening goal came 1:18 into the game and Bourret’s tally was on the man-advantage, assisted by left-winger Mick Lawrence and defenseman Mike Madill.

Stockton’s Bryan Young scored at the 15:47 mark of the first period, but the Wranglers picked up in the second period the same as they did in the first, with defenseman Barry Goers scoring unassisted 21 seconds into the period.

Then, after a Wranglers goal was called back and Ryan Weston was slashed on a breakaway without a call, Stockton rallied for four consecutive goals, two each in the second and third periods.

Mougenel said he felt the momentum slip away but urged his team to fight through it.

“I watched it 15 times and I had trouble seeing it,” Mougenel said of an incidental goaltender’s interference call on a play. “I’m still puzzled about it, extremely.”

Down a goal after Robinson’s second goal with 6:38 left in the third period, Wranglers center Adam Miller scored to tie the game, his 32nd goal of the season assisted by Madill and defenseman Craig Switzer.

The lead was short-lived when Robinson scored with a minute on the clock for the win.

“We don’t blame officiating,” Mougenel said. “But sometimes there are factors you can’t control. It’s tough to lose in that kind of scenario when you feel helpless about things.”

With 72 points, the Wranglers are tied with the Victoria Salmon Kings for sixth place in the conference. Lurking two points behind are the Ontario Reign.

The Reign will visit the Orleans Arena next weekend to close out the regular season with a three-game series.

“We’re fired up as is,” Mougenel said. “We play well at home, we’re going to go and play our type of game and just work.”

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