Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wranglers beat Stockton, pull ahead in points standings

By Anthony Fenech

Sunday, March 28, 2010 | 12:47 a.m.

For the second straight game, the Las Vegas Wranglers and Stockton Thunder were tied at two goals apiece late in the third period.

Friday night, the two teams skated to a regulation tie that stood until the Thunder won, 3-2, in a shootout.

Saturday night, Wranglers right-winger Alex Bourret decided three periods would be all Las Vegas needed to jump ahead of Stockton in the points standings.

With just under three minutes left on the clock, Bourret pushed the game-winning goal past Stockton’s Andrew Perugini, sealing a 3-2 Wranglers victory.

“For the last couple minutes, the guys were going to decide it,” Wranglers head coach Ryan Mougenel said. “There weren’t any penalty calls and the guys battled through it.”

“Bourret got a lucky bounce, but that’s what happens when you’re as skilled as him.”

The win comes a night after falling short in the shootout, dropping the Wranglers to a point behind Stockton. But Saturday night’s victory gives them 72 points, one ahead of Stockton.

“It’s a big two points,” Mougenel said. “But all of the points are big now for everybody. Our guys found a way, and that’s the bottom line.”

The Wranglers fell behind early, when Thunder right-winger Colin Hemingway scored 2:15 into the game for his 24th goal of the year.

But they responded ten minutes later with back-to-back goals from Mick Lawrence and Josh Prudden.

The pair of goals were scored 2:46 apart, and the Wranglers held the lead until the 15:55 mark of the second period when Matt Marquardt scored on the power play for Stockton, tying the game at 2.

The Wranglers out-shot Stockton by two, 29 to 27, and goaltender Jimmy Spratt stopped 25 of those shots for the victory.

Down a goal early, Spratt made a big save on Thunder right-winger Kelly Czuy, who was awarded a penalty shot 3:30 into the game.

“It was the right call,” Mougenel said. “Spratt made a huge save and he finds ways to win. The guys play really hard in front of him.”

“We’re playing playoff hockey right now,” he said. “Every win is important.”

Three stars: 1. Alex Bourret (game-winning goal); 2. Stockton’s Matt Marquardt (goal); 3. Stockton’s Colin Hemingway (goal).

Roster report: Mougenel said left-winger Ned Lukacevic will re-join the team for tomorrow’s series finale at Stockton. Lukacevic spent eight games with the AHL’s Providence Bruins, tallying two goals and four points.

Around the league: Ontario 4, Alaska 2; Utah 7, Bakersfield 4; Idaho 5, Victoria 1.

Points standings: 4th place, Utah (73 points); T-5th place, Las Vegas and Utah (72 points); 7th place, Stockton (71 points); 8th place, Ontario (70 points).

Up next: The rubber match of the three-game series between the two teams takes place at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Final word: “We need to get right back at it tomorrow,” Mougenel said.

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