The Wranglers and Aces continue their best-of-seven National Conference Semifinals series with Game Four on Thursday night. The Wranglers head into the game with a 3-0 series lead after winning the first three games of the series by a combined score of 16-3. A win would put the Wranglers in the National Conference Finals and Kelly Cup Semifinals. Las Vegas has never advanced past the second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. Alaska has advanced to the National Conference Finals three years in a row, winning the Kelly Cup in 2006. The Aces are 21-11 all time in home playoff games, while the Wranglers are 9-8 all time on the road in the playoffs, including a 3-1 mark this season.
So far in the playoff series, the Wranglers have outshot the Aces 108-81 in the first three games of the series. Las Vegas leads all teams in the Kelly Cup Playoffs, averaging 40.89 shots per game. The Wranglers have exceeded 40 shots in six of their nine playoff games. The Aces have surrendered over 40 shots in two games against the Wranglers and in four of their seven playoff games.
Wranglers right wing Adam Cracknell leads Las Vegas in scoring in the playoffs with 13 points. Center Tyler Mosienko is second with 12 points. Mosienko has a goal and an assist in the second round series with Alaska. Right wing Adam Cracknell passed Mosienko for the team scoring lead after recording two assists in Game Three. Cracknell is tied for the ECHL lead in playoff scoring and his assists are also tied for the ECHL lead. Right wing Peter Ferraro is third on the team with ten points. Ferraro did not participate in Game Three due to an illness and is probable for Game Four. Ferraro and Marco Peluso lead all scorers in the second round playoff series with two goals and six points. Defenseman Jason Dest scored his first ever professional goal, sealing the Game Three win with an empty-net goal.
Forwards Cam Keith and F.P. Guenette lead Alaska in playoff scoring with six points each. The Aces were held scoreless by Las Vegas until the third period of Game Two. In all, the Wranglers held the Aces off the scoreboard for 106:08 in Games One and Two. Defenseman Matt Shasby leads his team with three goals in six playoff games. Defenseman Peter Metcalf leads the Aces with 40 penalty minutes in seven playoff games.
Las Vegas goalie Kevin Lalande has come on strong in his last four playoff games after a sluggish start. The rookie netminder has won four straight, while allowing only four goals. Over that span, Lalande has a 1.00 goals against average and a .965 save percentage. Overall, Lalande is 7-2 with a 2.37 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. From Game Six against Stockton to Game Two against Alaska, Lalande held his opponents scoreless for 112:43. Daniel Manzato is available as a back-up to Lalande.
Aces Head Coach Keith McCambridge had yet to make a decision on who would start for Alaska in Game Four. Marek Schwarz started the first five playoff games before Las Vegas lit him up for eight goals in Game One last Friday. So far in the playoffs, Schwarz is 4-1 with a 2.98 goals against average. Chris Beckford-Tseu, who led the Aces past Las Vegas in the 2006 West Division Finals, took the Alaska loss in Game Two at the Orleans Arena. In two only playoff appearances this season, Beckford-Tseu 0-2 with a 4.37 goals against average.
Las Vegas has allowed one power-play goal in 36 chances. The Wranglers power play ranks seventh in the Kelly Cup playoffs, going 8-50 (16.0 %). Alaska’s penalty kill stopped 24 of 25 Idaho chances in round one. The Aces have stopped 12 of 22 Las Vegas chances in round two, slipping from 96% to 89.6%. The Aces power play ranks sixth in the ECHL in the playoffs, going 5-28. Las Vegas has smothered the Alaska power play, stopping all ten Alaska extra-man advantages.
The Wranglers will be without the services of forward Ryan Donally, Chris Ferraro and Brandon Kaleniecki. All three players remain on the injured reserve. Ferraro and Donally did not make the trip. Defenseman / forward Sean Owens and defenseman Jason Dest are available as replacements.
The Aces replaced rugged forward Ryan Reeves with left wing Eric Neilson. Neilson spent the second half of the season in the AHL with Peoria. In 34 regular season games, Neilson led the Aces with 119 penalty minutes prior at the time of his recall. Right wing Bo Cheesman did not play in the first two games against Las Vegas and is not expected in the line-up tonight. Cheesman finished fourth on the team in scoring during the regular season with 30 goals and 57 points.
Las Vegas Wranglers vs. Alaska Aces – National Conference Semifinals (best of seven series):
Game 1: Alaska 0 at Las Vegas 8
Game 2: Alaska 1 at Las Vegas 3
Game 3: Las Vegas 5 at Alaska 2 (LV leads Series 3-0)
Game 4: at Alaska – Thursday, May 1st at 8:15 pm (PDT)
Game 5: at Alaska – Friday, May 2nd at 8:15 pm (PDT) – X
Game 6: Tuesday, May 6th at 7:05 pm – Orleans Arena – X
Game 7: Wednesday, May 7th at 7:05 pm – Orleans Arena – X
X = If Necessary
2008 Kelly Cup Playoff ticket packages are now available. Fans may purchase tickets on the Wranglers team website at www.lasvegaswranglers.com or the Orleans Arena website (www.orleansarena.com. Fans may also purchase tickets at any of the following locations in the valley: Galleria Mall, Orleans Casino showroom box office, Gold Coast Casino showroom box office and the Suncoast Casino showroom box office. Tickets may be ordered by phone at (702) 284-7777.
Call (702) 471-PUCK (7825) for more information or visit www.lasvegaswranglers.com.