Even with a comfortable lead, it was no time to let up, and the Wranglers certainly didn’t Friday night.
Las Vegas coach Glen Gulutzan attributed the energy to the team’s young players, and no one typified that more than center Kevin DeVergilio.
Making his Wranglers debut, DeVergilio scored two goals to help Las Vegas defeat the Stockton Thunder, 4-0. Goalie John DeCaro recorded his second shutout this season.
The teams will play again at 7:30 p.m. today at the Orleans Arena in a regular-season finale that could affect home ice for the Kelly Cup playoffs.
Since Fresno folded, points do not factor into determining home ice because the teams now play a different number of games. It comes down to winning percentages.
A victory by the Wranglers (33-31-8) and loss by Bakersfield (33-31-7) will give Las Vegas home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Otherwise, the Wranglers will be stuck with having to win on the road, though they didn’t make a big deal about that possibility.
“It’s not like we have to travel 20 hours,” DeCaro said. “We want to play really well going into the playoffs and try to make a run at it.”
Against Stockton (32-32-7), the Wranglers didn’t let up even after leading comfortably in the third period. They outshot the Thunder 10-4 rather than play it safe and run out the clock.
“Those (young) guys are going to provide you energy all night,” Gulutzan said. “When they’re in the lineup and they’re working hard all night, it’s contagious.”
The Wranglers also helped themselves by not being shorthanded until the final three minutes, when they twice were a man down. That made the night easier for DeCaro, who got a strong effort from a defense that allowed just 25 shots.
The Wranglers dominated the opening period, benefiting from three power plays. Las Vegas, which took the first nine shots, led 2-0 on goals by forward Adam Miller and center Hugo Carpentier.
Then DeVergilio, who recently finished playing for St. Lawrence University, scored from the right circle in the second and third periods.
Contact reporter Mark Anderson at email@example.com or 702-387-2914.LAS VEGAS — 4 STOCKTON — 0
KEY: Kevin DeVergilio scored two goals, and goalie John DeCaro saved all 25 Thunder shots.
NEXT: Stockton Thunder at Wranglers, 7:30 p.m. today