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April 24, 2014

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HOCKEY:

Wranglers rebound in blowout victory

Broomball for charity

The Henderson Police Department arrives on the ice riding the SWAT truck to battle against the North Las Vegas Fire Department for the sixth annual Intermission Charity Broomball Contest during the Las Vegas Wranglers hockey game against the Bakersfield Condors Saturday at the Orleans Arena. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas Wranglers coach Glen Gulutzan delivered a simple message to his team following Friday night's blowout loss to the Bakersfield Condors -– play harder or get traded.

That warning echoed loud and clear in the Las Vegas locker room as the Wranglers crushed the Condors 5-1 in front of 6,902 fans at the Orleans Arena on Saturday night.

"We came in this morning and erased last night as a group," said Wranglers forward Adam Miller. "We came in with more positive energy. We knew we had to bury them in the first period and we did our job."

The Wranglers (19-18-4) wasted no time lighting up the scoreboard as Chris Ferraro netted a power play goal just 3:12 into the first period to put Las Vegas on top 3-1.

Late in the first period Miller and defenseman Chris St. Croix scored less than three minutes apart to sink Bakersfield (14-24-6) into a 3-0 hole.

"We obviously play better with the lead," Gulutzan said. "We don't really play well from behind, so we needed to get a lead."

After a scoreless second period, Condors center Dave Bonk capitalized on a 5-on-3 power play for his 16th goal of the season to cut Bakersfield's deficit to 3-1.

Las Vegas, however, never let Bakersfield move any closer thanks to late goals by Peter Ferraro and Miller.

The Wranglers also benefited from some stellar goaltending by Glenn Fisher, who is on loan from the Springfield Falcons (AHL).

Fisher stopped 45 of 46 shots Saturday.

"He's a good kid in the locker room and he just came out and played on his head for us," Miller said. "He doesn't really know us that well yet and he really trusted us and we really trusted him and he did great."

Stars of the game: 1. Glenn Fisher (45 saves); 2. Adam Miller (2 goals, 1 assists); 3. Dan Spang (2 assists)

Amped up: The Wranglers' power play performance this season has been nothing short of awful. And although that special teams unit still ranks last in the ECHL with a 12.2 percent success rate (28-of-230), Las Vegas did bury three power play goals out of nine opportunities Saturday.

"That was the difference," Gulutzan said. "We had a little bit more energy and we executed on the power play. Otherwise (Bakersfield) still played pretty good.

Cowardly Condors?: After two lopsided games between the Wranglers and the Condors, Monday's equalizer is sure to be a physical one. But several Las Vegas enforcers wanted to do some talking with their fists and apparently Bakersfield refused to oblige.

"All the guys trying to talk don't do anything out on the ice," Miller said. "All of our tough guys like (Brandon) Straub, (Steve) Makway and Mick (Lawrence) are asking guys left and right to go and nobody wants to go. Then when there are a bunch of them in the corner and suddenly they all want to start talking."

Broomball battle: The North Las Vegas Fire Department squared off against the Henderson Police Department in a charity broomball contest during the first intermission Saturday night. The police technically won 1-0, but even the Duke questioned the legality of that goal.

Henderson police impressed the crowd when they entered the ice on a swat team truck with a ferocious K-9 sitting the roof.

Next up: The Wranglers complete a three-game series with the Condors at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Orleans Arena.

Final word: "You can see right now it's getting a little bit heated and that's fine," Gulutzan said. "I think we play better when we are emotional. If it's an emotional game on Monday then that is fine with us."

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

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