Earlier this season, Wranglers center Chad Nehring’s girlfriend, Canadian Karinne Seiferling, outlasted four other people to win a Calgary radio station’s “Panic Room” contest.
Seiferling claimed more than $15,000 in cash and prizes for spending almost an entire week in a 100-square-foot glass-enclosed box in a mall.
“It was like a ‘Big Brother/Fear Factor’ thing,” Nehring said. “She had to eat bad stuff and barely slept.”
To borrow a quote from the movie “Anchorman,” the Wranglers have been locked in a glass case of emotion — namely frustration — all season.
After compiling the worst regular-season record (20-44-8) in franchise history, the Wranglers have lost their first two ECHL Kelly Cup playoff games to top-seeded Alaska by a combined score of 8-2.
To upset the Aces in their best-of-7 Western Conference quarterfinal series, Las Vegas needs to win four times in five games — something it hasn’t done all season — against a team it has only defeated twice in 15 meetings this season, including the playoffs.
But first-year coach Mike Madill isn’t hitting the panic button before today’s pivotal Game 3 at the Orleans Arena.
“This is not a big deal,” he said. “You win one game here and it’s a whole different mindset for the other team. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun here (tonight) and I think the attitude is in the right direction in that (locker) room right now.”
The Wranglers were soundly defeated 5-1 in Game 1 in Anchorage, but stayed within striking distance of Alaska throughout a 3-1 loss in Game 2. Las Vegas fell behind 2-1 after allowing two power-play goals in less than two minutes late in the first period and that’s how it stood until John Ramage scored an empty-net goal for the Aces with two seconds left.
“The first game we just made a ton of mistakes. We gave them every goal they had,” Nehring said. “In Game 2, we took a couple penalties they capitalized on and that was the game.
“We know we need to score a few more goals to win. Our goaltending’s been very good. We have to limit the chances that we’re giving them.”
Rookie goalie Travis Fullerton led the league in saves and has turned away 69 of 76 shots in the first two games as Alaska has fired twice as many shots as the Wranglers.
Nehring suffered a torn groin in his second game this season and missed 23 games before bouncing back to score a team-leading 22 goals, with 20 assists, in 49 games for Las Vegas.
The 26-year-old from Springside, Saskatchewan, assisted on both goals in Alaska and fired a team-leading 12 shots on net, but was denied by the Aces’ strong goaltending tandem of Gerald Coleman and Olivier Roy.
“I’m here to score goals and I’ve been working hard to do it,” Nehring said. “Those goalies beat me the first two games, but I’ll try to finish a few at home.
“We built some confidence the last game seeing we could’ve beat them. If we come out hard, play our game and get a win, it will build our confidence for the rest of the series.”
For the Wranglers to prevail, Madill said his top two lines — which have featured Nehring with Michael Neal and John Armstrong (goal) and Geoff Irwin with Shawn Skelly (goal), Matt Tassone, Adam Hughesman and Chris Francis — have to produce against Alaska’s league-leading defense.
“When we get a chance to score, if your job is to score goals, you have to find a way to score goals,” Madill said.
“(Game 3) is humongous. If you knock these guys back on their heels once, they start thinking it’s not going to be easy.”
A bit like being stuck in a panic room.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354. Follow him on Twitter: @tdewey33.