Wranglers stung by first postseason loss

Three days after being inspired by a disallowed goal in a Game 1 victory over Idaho, the Wranglers were beaten in Game 3 by a goal they thought shouldn’t have counted.

Chad Nehring scored the decisive goal in question on a wraparound at 8:09 of the third period to give the Steelheads a 4-3 victory Thursday night at CenturyLink Arena in Boise.

“It’s a real tough way to lose the game on a guess of a goal,” Wranglers coach Ryan Mougenel said. “I’m embarrassed for the league at times. Was it conclusive? Absolutely not. It didn’t go in.”

Mougenel also took issue with the goal judge, saying he had a quick trigger finger. Officials didn’t rule the play a goal until after conferring with the judge.

“The light was on before he even shot the puck,” Mougenel said. “It’s disturbing that we scored two in Las Vegas and can’t get our goal judge to turn the light on, and here the light’s on before.”

Wranglers forward Josh Lunden was denied a goal in Monday’s 3-1 victory at Orleans Arena that replays clearly showed should have counted. But the ECHL doesn’t use video replay.

After opening with five straight wins, Las Vegas suffered its first loss of the Kelly Cup playoffs and leads Idaho 2-1 in the best-of-7 Western Conference semifinals. Game 4 is at 6:10 p.m. Saturday in Boise.

“We’re in a series. (Our players) better understand it, and they better recognize it,” Mougenel said. “Not that it’s been easy, but we haven’t had any adversity and it’s a good test for us.”

Nehring had a goal and two assists, and Jerry Kuhn stopped 34 of 37 shots for the Steelheads.

Pete MacArthur, Lunden and Jeff May each had a goal and an assist for the Wranglers, who scored three consecutive goals to erase a 2-0 second-period deficit. May gave Las Vegas a 3-2 lead at 5:16 of the third, but Idaho’s Cody Purves beat Mitch O’Keefe (41 saves) 41 seconds later in a scramble in front of the net.

“When you score a big goal, your next shift has got to be your best one, and it wasn’t,” Mougenel said.

Idaho led 2-0 after power-play goals in the first (Aaron Lewicki) and second periods (Joe Pereira). MacArthur scored soon after Pereira, and Lunden tied the score 2-2 with 49 seconds left in the second.

“We didn’t really deserve to win that one,” Mougenel said. “It’s a letdown, but it’s not going to eat us up.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.

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