My town. My team.
The Wranglers’ slogan is a perfect fit for Las Vegas natives Chris Francis and Bryce Reddick, a pair of 23-year-old forwards that grew up together playing youth hockey here.
Francis, a former Eldorado High School student who played parts of the past two seasons for the Wranglers, scored Las Vegas’ lone goal in a 3-1 exhibition loss to the Ontario (Calif.) Reign on Thursday at Orleans Arena.
Reddick, a former Green Valley High student who spent the past four seasons at Michigan Tech, assisted on Francis’ goal in his professional debut for the Wranglers.
“I watched these guys growing up and it was obviously special to play with Chris, because we grew up together,” Reddick said. “It was cool to get my first pro point on his goal.”
Reddick’s father is former NHL goaltender Eldon “Pokey” Reddick, who played parts of five seasons for the Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers and also two seasons for Las Vegas of the now-defunct International Hockey League.
“It’s because of him is why I play,” Bryce Reddick said.
Reddick scored 10 points – seven goals and three assists – in 74 games at Michigan Tech, which he attended on a hockey scholarship.
“He’s a young player that’s finding his way,” Wranglers coach Ryan Mougenel said. “He didn’t have the college career that he probably wanted, but he skates like an NHL player.
“He’s a young kid that’s got to find his identity and has got to find it probably a little bit quicker than he would have to because we have such a short training camp here.”
Francis is a proven performer for Las Vegas, compiling 45 points (12-33) last season, including the playoffs, as he helped lead the ECHL franchise to its second trip to the Kelly Cup Finals. The Wranglers lost in five games to the Florida Everblades.
Training camp began Sunday and Francis entered on a mission. He was named captain for Thursday’s game.
“He came in way better shape and arguably looked the best in training camp,” Mougenel said. “I’m expecting big things from Franny.
“A year ago he was here on a tryout, and this year he’s wearing a ‘C’ in preseason. That says a lot about how far he’s come.”
Brady Calla had two goals – including an empty netter – for the Reign, who scored two power-play goals in 65 seconds in the second period and outshot the Wranglers, 34-12.
“It was a preseason game. We practiced three full days and looked like a team that maybe practiced two,” Mougenel said. “We just weren’t on the same page.”
Las Vegas will play at Ontario today before wrapping up its preseason slate with games against the Alaska Aces on Monday and Tuesday at Anchorage.
Las Vegas open its 10th season Oct. 14 at Bakersfield and will play Stockton in its home opener Oct. 19.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at email@example.com or 702-383-0354.ONTARIO 3
LAS VEGAS 1
■ KEY: The Reign scored two power-play goals in 65 seconds in the second period and outshot the Wranglers, 34-12.
■ NEXT: Wranglers at Reign, 7 p.m. today