The bad news is in the final score.
The good news? By virtue of the Phoenix Roadrunners’ 4-3 shootout loss to the Alaska Aces, the Reign now need only one point tonight against the Roadrunners — a shootout loss, overtime loss, or win will do — to clinch at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
The Reign kept it close early against the Wranglers, who now trail the Reign by five points for first place in the ECHL’s Pacific Division.
Brad Mehalko’s eighth goal of the season, at 9:39 of the first period, forged a 1-1 tie that held until intermission. But the Wranglers broke through for three goals in the second period, including two on back-to-back shots on Jeff Zatkoff 15 seconds apart to make it 4-1.
Dale Reinhardt’s 11th goal of the season, off a feed from Geoff Walker behind the net, made it 4-2 with 4:33 left in the third. But Las Vegas’ Kelly Czuy scored with 2:15 to play to dash any comeback hopes for the Reign.
Zatkoff stopped 20 of 25 shots in taking the loss, and Glenn Fisher stopped 25 of 27 for Vegas, after losing a 177-minute shutout streak on Mehalko’s goal. Fisher was also the ECHL’s goaltender of the week last week.
Defenseman Colten Teubert, the 13th overall draft pick by the Kings in 2008, made his debut for the Reign, wearing Ryan Bowness’ #21. He was paired with veteran Chad Starling (who took him out to lunch in Vegas after finding out they’d be paired together).
Itan Chavira and Mike Howe were scratches. Official scoresheet here.