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November 28, 2014

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Godfrey powers Wranglers past Solar Bears

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Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Sun

Defenseman Jamie Fritsch rips a slapshot towards the Orlando net during the third period on Saturday night at the Orleans Arena.

Wranglers vs. Solar Bears (12/1/12)

Adam Huxley, right, throws a right hand towards the face of Mike Liambas during a third period fight on Saturday night. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas' Josh Godfrey saw the opening he was looking for. He drew back his stick and unleashed a vicious shot that zipped past Orlando goalie Hannu Toivonena and into the net.

Godfrey was just getting warmed up, as the defenseman scored again and tallied an assist to help the Las Vegas Wranglers pick up a 4-0 victory Saturday over the Orlando Solar Bears in the Orleans Arena.

"It's nice to have a game like that," Godfrey said of his two-goal, one-assist showing. "I still feel that I do the same things every other game. Tonight, you can say I hit the net more. I'm always trying to play consistent and do the same things out there."

The Wranglers improved to 7-7-0-3 with the victory, and have seemingly found good form as of late. They've picked up seven points over their last seven games.

"I liked us tonight," Las Vegas coach Ryan Mougenel. "We had saves. Power play looked really good. We won a lot of face-offs. ... It was a good team win tonight."

It's probably not a coincidence that Godfrey has played a role in the Wranglers' run of good play.

Godfrey, a former second-round pick by the Washington Capitals in 2007, was activated Nov. 15 after spending the first 10 games on injured reserved, recovering from knee surgery.

"I hadn't played since the playoffs last year," Godfrey said. "It took longer than I expected to get back into the lineup. I'm feeling like I'm building toward being my old self."

Godfrey's biggest contribution comes in the form a powerful, NHL-caliber shot. He won the ECHL's Hardest Shot competition in 2011, clocking in a 102.7 mph.

It's the reason why Mougenel went after Godfrey in the offseason. He knew the type of impact Godfrey's booming shot could have, especially when it comes to getting pucks through opposing defenses.

"That's what he's here for," Mougenel said. "He's here to get pucks through."

Against the Solar Bears (8-10-2-1), Godfrey got pucks through and it paid dividends. He fired four shots — three of them resulting in goals.

His first shot was a laser from the point, resulting in the Wranglers' opening goal. Godfrey's next shot bounced off Toivonen, allowing Chris Francis to scoop it up and put it into the net. Godfrey wrapped up his good night by scoring his second goal on a power play early in the third period, firing the puck into the net from the left circle.

"Today, I got all the right bounces," said Godfrey, whose first goal at the 16:49 mark of the first period triggered the Teddy Bear Toss.

Not to be lost in Godfrey's offensive fireworks was another stellar performance from goalie Joe Fallon.

On Friday, Mougenel said he saw the Fallon of old against the Solar Bears and it was more of the same Saturday.

Fallon made 27 saves to pick up his first shutout of the year.

"He got new skates," Mougenel said. "I guess that's all he needed was new skates. He's a hell of a goalie. It's not like I lost faith in Joe. He just needed to be better."

Three Stars: 1. Josh Godfrey, Las Vegas (2 goals, 1 assist), 2. Joe Fallon, Las Vegas (27saves, win), 3. Andrew Sarauer, Las Vegas (1 goal, 1 assist)

Up Next: The Wranglers will have Sunday and Monday off before traveling to Stockton, Calif., for a two-game series against the Stockton Thunder. The first game is scheduled to begin Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Final Word: "Once you get the first one, you can build off that. It's a lot better building off a lead instead of having to come from behind the whole game."— Josh Godfrey on scoring first for only the fourth time this season.

Paul Delos Santos can be reached at 990-2416 or [email protected]. Follow Paul on Twitter at twitter.com/pauliedelos.

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