Yes, it’s blistering hot in Las Vegas, at least for me. Thirty celsius is blistering, isn’t it? So what does a good Habs fan do now that the team is finished and it’s so damn hot? Go to a hockey game, that’s what. A good, old fashioned ECHL game 2 Pacific Division final between the Las Vegas Wranglers and Stockton Thunder at the friendly confines of the Orleans Arena, just off the Vegas Strip behind the Orleans Casino.
Las Vegas Wranglers are an affiliate of the Calgary Flames, while Stockton belongs to Edmonton, and both have strong ideas about reaching the ultimate goal, the Kelly Cup. The winner of this series plays the winner of Alaska-Victoria for the right to advance to the big showdown. Montreal’s team in the ECHL, the Cincinnati Cyclones, are still alive and going at it in the east.
Las Vegas has had some problems lately, blowing four, two-goal, first period leads in their playoff run this year, including game one of this series. So blowing leads needed to be corrected, and this little problem, along with seeing what hockey atmosphere is like here, made it interesting and curious for me as I readied to go to the game. How would the Wranglers play, I wondered.
How would they? They played great. They took it to a smallish yet fast Stockton team before 2800 noisy and playful Vegas fans, and came away with a 4-2 win to even this series at one apiece. There were a couple of fights, three Vegas power play goals, and this night was fun, fun, fun. The only unsettling thing was the orange and black colours of the Thunder, for all the obvious reasons. And no, I don’t mean Pittsburgh.
The smallest played on the ice was Wrangler forward Tyler Mosienko, who is non-other than the grandson of Chicago Hall of Famer Bill Mosienko . Bill Mosienko was not only a great player, but also pulled off some magic one night in particular when he scored an incredible three goals in 21 seconds.
Playing for Stockton is a fellow named Cleve Kinley. Amazingly, I met this guy when he was about eleven years old. He’s from Powell River where I live, and about ten years ago when I had a small restaurant there, his parents, who I know slightly, used to bring little Cleve in to eat because the restaurant served all ages. Cleve got bigger and played for the BCHL Powell River Kings, then I never heard from him again. Until tonight.