Sunday, March 18, 2012 | 7:22 p.m.
Despite outshooting Bakersfield 43-23, including 20-3 in the third period, the Las Vegas Wranglers hockey team on Sunday was defeated 4-3 at the Orleans Arena.
The Condors took an early 1-0 lead at the 5:36 mark of the first period when left winger Jesse Gimblett received a pass from Peter Boyd near the crease and knocked it past Wranglers goaltender Mitch O’Keefe for his 15th goal of the season.
The Wranglers tied the game less than seven minutes later as forward Thomas Kiriakou controlled a pass in front of the Condors’ net and beat Bakersfield netminder Bryan Pitton for his second goal of the year.
Bakersfield answered back with a shorthanded goal early in the second period to regain a goal advantage.
Condor left winger Casey Pierro-Zabotel gathered a loose puck that ricocheted off the boards and fired the puck through O’Keefe’s legs from a difficult angle in the left circle to give Bakersfield the lead.
The Wranglers responded with a Jeff Hazelwood goal with just over five minutes remaining in the second period to even the score at two goals apiece.
Las Vegas forward Robbie Smith drilled a shot on goal that bounced off the pad of Pitton and Hazelwood was by the net to clean up the rebound for the tying goal.
Bakersfield took the lead for good on a Parker Stanfield goal with 1:27 remaining in the second period.
Condor defenseman Justin Pender rifled a shot towards the net from blue line and Stanfield used his stick to deflect the puck into the back of the net for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
After Las Vegas failed to capitalize on several quality scoring opportunities early in the third period, Bakersfield added to its lead with a Josh Van Dyk power-play goal with 5:43 left in regulation.
The Wranglers quickly responded with a Sean Wiles goal 13 seconds later to trim the deficit to 4-3, but Pitton held Las Vegas scoreless the remainder of the game to keep the Condors slim Kelly Cup Playoff hopes alive.
With the loss, the Wranglers remain three points behind Ontario for first place in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. The Wranglers have already secured their playoff berth with only six games remaining before postseason play begins.
Wranglers center Ash Goldie had his head shaved during the first intermission to help raise awareness for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which assists kids battling cancer.
The Wranglers wore special green St. Baldrick’s Foundation jerseys that will be auctioned off to help raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer.
Following the game, several of the players and coaches shaved their heads to honor the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Players and coaches were unavailable for comment directly after the game.
Next up: The Wranglers return to the ice Tuesday as they host the Colorado Eagles at the Orleans Arena at 7:05 p.m. After a 1-game stand against the Eagles, the Wranglers will welcome to town the Idaho Steelheads for a two-game series which starts Friday night.