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November 28, 2014

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HOCKEY:

Wranglers clinch playoff spot despite recent losses

ECHL realigns divisions for next season

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Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Las Vegas Sun

The Las Vegas Wranglers, seen here huddling during a timeout against Alaska on March 21, have finally clinched a playoff spot. The Wranglers conclude the regular season at the Orleans Arena this weekend as they host the Stockton Thunder Friday and Saturday night.

Despite losing their last two games, the Las Vegas Wranglers finally captured an official playoff spot.

The Wranglers (32-31-8) have distanced themselves far enough from the last place Phoenix Roadrunners (29-34-5) to guarantee one of the eight playoff slots allotted to the nine teams in the National Conference.

With only two games remaining in the regular season against division foe Stockton Thunder (32-31-7) this weekend at the Orleans Arena, the Wranglers could head into the postseason a second, third or fourth seed in the Pacific Division.

"We aren't worried about seeding, we are just worried about getting healthy and getting our guys back from the AHL," said Wranglers coach and general manager Glen Gulutzan.

If the playoffs started today, the Wranglers would face the Ontario Reign (37-29-5) in the first round.

Aside from securing a postseason berth, the Wranglers also learned of new division realignments for next season as the Mid-Season ECHL Board of Governors Meeting concluded Monday.

In that meeting, the Board learned that Phoenix would cease operations at the conclusion of the current season. The Dayton Bombers and the Mississippi Sea Wolves also informed the Board that they would not compete in the 2009-10 season.

The addition of the Toledo Walleye leaves 19 teams in the ECHL with 11 in the American Conference and eight in the National conference. Las Vegas will remain in the Pacific Division with Bakersfield, Ontario and Stockton.

"As long as you have eight teams, you still have a pretty balanced schedule," Gulutzan said.

The ECHL also approved Ontario to host the 2010 All-Star Game and Skills Competition on Jan 19-20. The Reign finished second in the league with an average of attendance of 5,856 fans in just their first season of operations.

"They've done a new job in Ontario" Gulutzan said. "They have a nice building and a successful team. I think it will be a real successful event up there."

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

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