Wranglers push Aces to edge of elimination

Marco Peluso and Shawn Limpright are the only Wranglers players remaining from the team that lost to eventual ECHL champion Alaska in the 2006 playoffs.

So it was fitting that each of them played a big part in a 5-2 victory over the Aces on Tuesday in Game 3 of the National Conference semifinals at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska.

Peluso scored two goals — the second of which turned out to be the game winner — and Limpright, who is playing through an upper-body injury, added two assists to lift Las Vegas to a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

The Wranglers will try to close out the Aces on the road at 8:15 p.m. Thursday.

“I have a little past with these guys, and there’s nothing better than some sweet revenge,” Peluso said. “It’s a really big win. If we lost this game, we’re up 2-1 and they’re only one behind, but now they’ve got to win all four games, so we’re right where we want to be.”

After falling behind early in each of the first two games, Alaska was intent on starting strong in Game 3. But the Wranglers quickly took control again.

Las Vegas, which hasn’t trailed in the series, took a 1-0 lead just 2:10 into the game when Adam Miller snuck into the slot, took a nice feed from Adam Cracknell and put the puck between the legs of Alaska goalie Chris Beckford-Tseu, who was pulled after the second period after allowing four goals on 19 shots.

“It was all over the papers here that they wanted to come out hard in the first 10 minutes, and our attitude was ‘Bring it on.’ We’re not here to just play 10 minutes; we’re here to play 60 minutes,” said Wranglers goalie Kevin Lalande (7-2), who stopped 37 of 39 shots and has only allowed four goals in his last four games.

Peluso made it 2-0 4:46 into the second period, when the Wranglers caught the Aces on a line change. Cracknell sprung Peluso with a pass up the ice, and Peluso broke in alone and buried it.

Alaska made it a 2-1 game 6:14 into the second period on a goal by Derek Martin, but Peluso and Gerry Burke scored 16 seconds apart to give Las Vegas a 4-1 lead.

Peluso scored the Wranglers’ only power-play goal of the night, in nine chances, when he beat Beckford-Tseu in front of the net with 4:50 left.

Burke pushed the lead to 4-1 with 4:34 to play in the second when his shot from the blue line fluttered through traffic into the net.

Kimbi Daniels closed the gap to 4-2 midway through the third, but that was all Alaska could muster. Jason Dest scored his first goal of the season on an empty-netter with 23 seconds remaining for the final margin.

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