STEPHEN SYLVANIE / SPECIAL TO THE SUN
Friday, April 27, 2012 | 11:44 p.m.
After a lackluster performance in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Thursday, Wranglers coach Ryan Mougenel gave his team a passionate postgame speech about seizing the moment and raising the intensity level of the team’s play.
A night later, the Wranglers showed their coach they received the message. Las Vegas scored three goals in the first period, including two in the first five minutes, as it shut out the Aces 3-0 to even the series at a game apiece.
“I think it proves the type of character that’s on this team,” Mougenel said. “They wanted to get after them and we got after them real early. I think we caught them a little off guard. I thought the Aces' first period tonight was like our first period last night.”
Las Vegas left wing Josh Lunden rebounded an Ash Goldie shot near the Aces’ net and beat goalie Gerald Goleman for the opening goal at the 1:28 mark of the first period.
Less than three minutes later, Wranglers center Scott Campbell extended the lead to 2-0 as he was able to squeeze the puck between Coleman’s pad and the right post for his sixth goal of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
“We were sluggish yesterday,” Campbell said. “Alaska basically called us out just with its play. We wanted to come out and respond and answer the bell. I thought we did that tonight.”
With 42 seconds left in the opening period, Campbell capped the scoring for Las Vegas with his second goal of the game. He collected a pass from Peter MacArthur near the crease and lifted it by Coleman into the back of the net.
“Anytime you can extend a lead, especially in the last minute is big,” Campbell said. “I think the first two minutes and the last two of each period are crucial in helping set the tempo. It was big to build that lead and clamp it down.”
With the goal, Campbell tied Nick Sirota of the Kalamazoo Wings for the most goals scored in the playoffs with seven. Sirota was held scoreless Friday night as the Wings were shut out 2-0 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Florida Everblades.
“He plays the game the right way. I can’t say enough about Scott Campbell,” Mougenel said. “He’s an amazing player. There isn’t a thing in his game that any coach in any league wouldn’t want. He can play in the NHL. I’m confident in that.”
While Coleman was pulled after the first period for allowing three goals, Wranglers goaltender Joe Fallon continued his stellar play in the postseason as he stopped all 23 shots he faced.
The Wranglers played stout defense in the final two periods to help preserve the shutout. They killed an Aces’ two-man advantage in the second period and held Alaska to two shots in the final 20 minutes of play.
Stars of the game: 1. Scott Campbell (2 goals); 2. Josh Lunden (1 goal, 2 assists); 3. Joe Fallon (23 saves); 4. Peter MacArthur (2 assists).
Next up: The Wranglers have a travel day off on Saturday before returning to the ice at 8:15 p.m. on Sunday at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage for Game 3 of the conference finals best-of-seven series. It will be the first of four potential meetings at Sullivan Arena.
Final word: “I think the key is taking it day-by-day and period-by-period and shift-by-shift,” Mougenel said. “We can’t look too far ahead. We need to be committed to the long haul and that’s what we’re going to be here. It’s going to be a long series.”
The Orleans Arena, a Boyd Gaming facility located just west of the Las Vegas Strip, is one of the nation’s leading mid-sized arenas, and was recently ranked No. 1 in the United States and No. 5 internationally among venues of similar size by Venues Today Magazine.
The Arena hosts more than 200 events each year, including concerts by top names like Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Van Halen, Brooks & Dunn, Black Eyed Peas, Akon and Rihanna; family favorites like The Harlem Globetrotters and Circus Spectacular; and a wide variety of sporting events, including NCAA basketball tournaments, the West Coast Conference and Western Athletic Conference Basketball Championships, mixed martial arts with Superior Cage Combat, and major motorsports events.
The arena serves as home to the Las Vegas Wranglers professional ECHL hockey team, the Las Vegas Legends professional indoor soccer team, and the Lingerie Football League’s Las Vegas Sin. Stay connected to the Orleans Arena on Facebook (www.facebook.com/orleansarena) and on Twitter (@orleansarena).