Las Vegas Wranglers - Franchise History - Rise To Prominence

Rise To Prominence

Before the 2005–06 season, Wranglers captain Jason McBain announced his retirement and the team's captaincy was given to his brother Mike as the Wranglers looked to shake off the disappointing performance of their sophomore season. The Wranglers started the season on a rocket pace losing only four games in the first three months of the season. This included the Wranglers besting their home mark to start a season, as they did not lose at home in regulation until January 3, 2006, 3–2 to the Reading Royals. Before the loss to Reading, the Wranglers had gone 12–0–2 during the time. Along with the 14-game unbeaten streak at home to start the season, the Wranglers also tied the league record for most consecutive road wins with ten from November 22, 2005 to December 31, 2005. One of the most memorable moments during the 2005–06 season came during the Wranglers' November 5–2 8 win as head coach Glen Gulutzan challenged Fresno's head coach Matt Thomas to a fight because Fresno goons Brad Both and Fraser Clair instigated fights with Wranglers rookies Tim Hambly and Lee Green with 11 seconds left in the game. Several Wranglers set team records during the 2005–06 season, including goaltender Marc Magliarditi for most games played by a goaltender (51) and most wins by a goaltender (34). Centre Matt Dzieduszycki set the team record for most points in a season with 78 and Dan Tudin set team records for highest plus/minus with +38, shots on goal with 256 and shorthanded goals with seven.

The Wranglers ended the season with their best record at 53–13–6 (112 points), only one point behind the Alaska Aces for the West Division title and the Henry Brabham Cup. The 53 wins in 2005–06 were the most in franchise history and the 20-win turnaround led to head coach Glen Gulutzan being awarded the John Brophy Award as the league's top coach. The Wranglers would take on the Idaho Steelheads in the best-of-seven West Division semifinals. The Wranglers found themselves trailing Idaho three games to one, but pulled off what only one other team in the ECHL's history were able to do, winning the best-of-seven series after trailing 3–1. The Wranglers faced the Alaska Aces in the West Division finals, ultimately falling in six games.

Seeking to improve on a great year, the Wranglers were placed in the National Conference's Pacific Division following a league wide realignment. The Wranglers had their best chance to capture their first banner as they did not have to compete with Alaska or Idaho for the division title. The Wranglers had to begin the season without veterans goaltender Marc Magliarditi and Mike McBain but still had a good start, earning points in all of their first eight games, going 3–0–5. The Wranglers relied heavily on new goaltender Mike McKenna and returning stars Shawn Limpright and Marco Peluso for leadership during the time in which the team lost its most veteran players. Magliarditi himself retired in the middle of the season, leaving as the franchise's career leader in minutes played (8517), games played by a goaltender (146), wins (83) and shutouts (7). Despite injuries and being left with only one player from the inaugural 2003–04 franchise, the Wranglers paced themselves to their first ever banner, winning the Pacific Division title on April 4, 2007 with a 4 – 2 victory on the road against the Long Beach Ice Dogs at Long Beach Arena . Three days later the Wranglers clinched the Brabham Cup title when they defeated the Stockton Thunder 2 – 1 on the last game of the season, just edging out heated rival, the Alaska Aces by one-point, reminiscent of the Brabham Cup race the two teams had just one year before.

The Wranglers finished the 2006–07 regular season with a 46–12–14 record (106 points) and set the league record for fewest road defeats in a single season with 5. Wranglers rookie goalie Mike McKenna would finish second in the race for the Reebok Goaltender of the Year award, finishing behind Adam Berkhoel of the Dayton Bombers, and set single season team records in shutouts (5) and lowest goals against average (2.21). The Wranglers also entered the Kelly Cup playoffs on a 13-game winning streak when they took on the 8th-seeded Phoenix RoadRunners in the National Conference quarterfinals. The Wranglers swept the 'Runners in four games and take on the Idaho Steelheads in the National Conference semifinals. The Wranglers won game one of the series to extend their league record winning streak to 18 games, tying the 1991 Peoria Rivermen of the International Hockey League for the longest winning streak in professional hockey history. The streak ended in game two and Idaho eventually took the series in six games on the way to their second Kelly Cup title in four years.

Read more about this topic:  Las Vegas Wranglers, Franchise History

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