Las Vegas Sun

November 28, 2014

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HOCKEY:

Rookie’s stellar debut sparks Wranglers

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Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Las Vegas Sun

Wranglers rookie Kevin DeVergilio (12) is congratulated by teammates after scoring his first professional goal during a game against the Stockton Thunder at the Orleans Arena on Friday night. DeVergilio scored again Friday night in Las Vegas’ 4-0 victory.

Wranglers shutout Stockton

Wranglers pugelist Tim Spencer (left) takes a right from Thunder winger Adam Huxley in a one-sided bout during a game at the Orleans Arena on Friday night. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas Wranglers coach and general manager Glen Gulutzan did not have to search hard for the hero of Friday night's shutout of the Stockton Thunder.

Rather than analyze scouting reports or listen to agents' sales pitches, Gulutzan heeded the advice of defenseman Mike Madill and signed Madill's former St. Lawrence University teammate, Kevin DeVergilio, to an amateur tryout agreement on Thursday.

DeVergilio did not disappoint his college teammate or his new coach as he scored two goals in his first professional game to help the Wranglers sink Stockton 4-0 in front of 4,828 fans at the Orleans Arena.

"This is something I've been looking forward to all year and it felt good to get out there and get my feet wet," said DeVergilio, who recorded 113 points in 154 games with St. Lawrence.

DeVergilio displayed his propensity to crash the net as he led Las Vegas with eight shots on goal Friday.

With the Wranglers leading 2-0 following first period goals by Adam Miller and Hugo Carpentier, DeVergilio netted his first professional score just 2:39 into the second period to put Las Vegas on top 3-0. Fellow rookie and Notre Dame senior Garrett Regan tallied an assist on that goal for his first career professional point.

In the third period, DeVergilio extended the Wranglers' advantage to 4-0 with his second goal of the night with 6:24 remaining in the game.

"(DeVergilio) is creative," Madill said. "He has a great set of hands and he makes things happen around the net.

Las Vegas goalie John DeCaro picked up his second shutout with 25 saves. He is now 11-7-0 this season.

Despite DeCaro's stellar outing Friday, Gulutzan said he plans to start Glenn Fisher (12-7-2) on Saturday night before deciding who will control the crease during the playoffs.

"We are both competitors, we both want to play and we both deserve to play," DeCaro said. "Whichever one goes we'll support each other. At this level, you are men and you take your spots and you play when you get the chance."

Stars of the game: 1. John DeCaro (25 saves, shutout); 2. Kevin DeVergilio (2 goals); 3. Hugo Carpentier (1 goal)

Playoff seeding: All the Wranglers really know is they will be in the playoffs, but who, where and when they play still has yet to be determined. Since the Bakersfield Condors (33-31-7) beat the Ontario Reign (37-29-6) 4-3 in overtime Friday, Las Vegas would have to win Saturday night and hope for a Bakersfield loss to clinch the No. 2 seed and home-ice advantage. A Wranglers loss Saturday would most likely keep Las Vegas in third place in the Pacific Division.

"We're just trying to take both these games this weekend and then let things fall where they may," Gulutzan said.

Going streaking: Rookie forward Scott McCulloch registered his seventh point in his seventh professional game Friday night with an assist on Miller's first period goal. The newcomer from Colorado College has notched three goals and four assists since joining the Wranglers on March 21.

Next up: The Wranglers close out the regular season with a rematch against the Thunder Saturday night at the Orleans Arena at 7:30 p.m.

Final word: "DeCaro played amazing in net -- he controlled his rebounds and that makes it easy on the defense," Madill said. "Our defense also had a lot of help from the forwards coming back, so that made it easier too. I think we played well defensively all together as a whole team."

Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].

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