Saturday, March 31, 2012 | 11:48 p.m.
The Las Vegas Wranglers rallied back from a 3-1 third-period deficit to force overtime, but were held scoreless in the shootout as they dropped their regular-season finale 4-3 to Colorado on Saturday at the Orleans Arena.
“I’m disappointed, obviously, in the shootout losses,” Wranglers head coach Ryan Mougenel said. “We need to be better in shootouts, that’s for sure. We’ve lost a lot of points on shootout losses this year.”
For the second consecutive night, Colorado opened up a 2-0 advantage. The Eagles scored a power-play goal from Kevin Ulanski in the first period and added a power-play goal from Aaron Slattengren early in the second period.
Las Vegas responded with a power-play goal of its own from Jeff May to trim the deficit in half later in the second period.
May collected a pass in the left corner from Adam Miller and sent the puck flying by Colorado goaltender Damien Ketlo for his seventh goal of the season.
“May’s been awesome,” Mougenel said. “He’s an amazing kid. Him and Mike Madill don’t always get the credit they deserve, but they’ve logged a lot of minutes. They’ve been absolutely awesome for us.”
The Eagles extended their lead to 3-1 early in the third period on a Luka Vidmar goal coming off a deflection in front of the Wranglers’ net.
Las Vegas battled back with its second power-play goal of the game on a Chris Francis slap shot from near the blue line to pull the Wranglers within a goal of the Eagles.
The Wranglers tied the game with a Miller goal at the 14:08 mark of the third period. Miller gathered a rebound off the pad of Ketlo and scored his 84th point of the season, which ranked him second in the ECHL in total points.
After a scoreless five-minute overtime frame, Colorado’s Joey Sides and Slattengren scored on their first two shots in the shootout to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
The Wranglers failed to score on any of their four shots in the shootout as Ketlo collected three pad saves and a glove save.
Stars of the game: 1. Damien Ketlo (44 saves in regulation and overtime, 4 saves in shootout); 2. Aaron Slattengren (1 goal, 1 assist, shootout goal); 3. Adam Miller (1 goal, 2 assists).
Playoff matchup set: With the shootout loss, the Wranglers finished the regular season second place in the Pacific Division with 92 points and earned the third seed in the Western Conference. Las Vegas will face the sixth-seeded Utah Grizzlies in the first round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
Wranglers’ records: Lampe, Miller and Mike Madill were honored prior to the game for setting club records this season. Lampe set franchise records for most goals in a game, most points in a game, and most goals in a season. Miller set club records for most all-time goals, most all-time assists and most all-time points. Madill has set the team record for most games played in franchise history.
Next up: The Wranglers return to action Monday at 7:05 p.m. against the Grizzlies in Game 1 of the Kelly Cup playoffs. Las Vegas will play at Utah the first two games and return to the Orleans Arena for Game 3 on Thursday in the best-of-five series.
Final word: “Those are 72 exhibition games,” Mougenel said. “Now the real season starts. Utah has a lot of really good offensive guys. They’ve got depth in their lineup and they’ve got a big goaltender that we’ve got to get to. It’s going to be a battle. That’s what playoffs are all about.”
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).