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Thunder fall to Wranglers 3-2 in overtime

by Mike Benton / Edmonton Oilers


Lawrence's OT goal ties the series at 2-2; Game 5 set for Monday

STOCKTON, Calif. - Mick Lawrence's slap shot goal from the right wing, just 28 seconds into sudden-death overtime, helped the Las Vegas Wranglers send the Stockton Thunder to a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 4 of the Pacific Division Final of the 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs, before 6,596 fans at Stockton Arena on Saturday.

Las Vegas tied the best-of-seven series, 2-2 as the Thunder won two out of three possible games at home with both teams playing a staggered "1-1-2-3" format due to building schedule conflicts at Orleans Arena, the home of the Wranglers. Thunder goaltender Parker Van Buskirk made a playoff career-high 39 saves and received goal-scoring support from Garet Hunt and Brandon Naurato. Dan Riedel and Tyler Mosienko scored for Las Vegas.

Game 1: Las Vegas 3 at Stockton 4 
Game 2: Stockton 2 at Las Vegas 4
Game 3: Las Vegas 1 at Stockton 5
Game 4: Las Vegas 3 at Stockton 2 (OT)
Game 5: Stockton at Las Vegas - Monday, May 4 - 7:30 p.m. (Orleans Arena)
Game 6: Stockton at Las Vegas - Tuesday, May 5 - 7:30 p.m. (Orleans Arena)
Game 7: Stockton at Las Vegas - Wednesday, May 6 - 7:30 p.m. (Orleans Arena)*
* If necessary; All Times Pacific

The Thunder, who were playing hockey in the month of May for the first time in team history, jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 2:10 into the game on Hunt'sthird goal of the postseason and second in as many games. Hunt took Tyler Kindle's set-up from behind the net and rifled a wrist shot that beat John DeCaro from between the hash marks.

Van Buskirk made all 12 saves in the first period, including a rebound chance by Mike Madill in the slot just before time expired, denying Madill's chance off his blocker.

The Wranglers countered with 17 shots on goal in the second period and managed to level the score at the 10:19 mark of the second period on Tyler Mosienko's one-timer from below the hash marks. Mosienko took Chris Neiszner's pass from behind the goal and snuck a wrist shot over Van Buskirk's blocker.

Van Buskirk kept the Thunder in the game by stopping a penalty shot with 14:11 left in the period on Dan Riedel, deflecting the Wranglers forward's snap shot off the left shoulder.

Naurato gave the Thunder a 2-1 lead with 6:54 gone in the third period when he finished off a three-way passing sequence at the doorstep, re-directing a right wing pass by Huddy past DeCaro's blocker.

Riedel buried his sixth goal of postseason to tie the score at 2-2 just 2:45 later when he corralled Adam Miller's drop pass at the left circle and beat Van Buskirk with a snap shot under the crossbar.

Both teams carried the tie into overtime with Van Buskirk stopping 11 shots by Las Vegas in the third period.

Just 28 seconds into the overtime session, Lawrence stole a Thunder clearing pass at the neutral zone, skated down the right wing and blasted a slap shot past the blocker of Van Buskirk from the right circle, sending the Wranglers flying off the bench in celebration.

DeCaro picked up his second win in six postseason decisions with a 24-save effort.

The Thunder scratched Andrew Perugini (injury, day-to-day), Mike Lalonde (injured reserve), Matt O'Dette (injured reserve), Igor Gongalsky (injured reserve), Sebastien Bisaillon (healthy) and Judd Blackwater (injury, day-to-day) ... Bates extended his playoff scoring streak to a league-high eight straight games ... Stockton was kept at an 0-for-4 clip on the power-play and allowed only two chances for Las Vegas, denying the Wranglers on both opportunities ... the Thunder fell to 4-2 at home in postseason play ... Edmonton Oilers assistant coach and former NHL defenseman Charlie Huddy was in attendance at the game.

The Thunder and Wranglers return to play for Game 5 of the series on Monday, May 4 at Orleans Arena, starting at 7:30 p.m. The game is available on radio at 1420 KSTN and is available for viewing online (audio is free-of-charge) for a $7 charge at (courtesy of B2 Networks).

Three Stars
1. LV - 19 Mick Lawrence
2. STK - 30 Parker Van Buskirk
3. LV - 11 Dan Riedel

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