The Las Vegas Wranglers played their last game ever – after 11 seasons –
at The Orleans Arena on Friday night. We were there to take it all in – Lee
Friday, April 25, 2014
By Lee Samuels
Las Vegas – At the Orleans ticket counter, about an hour or so before faceoff, we took a hard look at the plastic, multi-color seating chart and asked about “the last row in section 103. Seems like a nice place.”
“There’s a nice seat third row down, on an aisle,” he said.
“Will it be crowded there?”
Not in that location,” he replied
We went into The Orleans Arena to see the Las Vegas Wranglers, down three games to none in a Best of Seven, against division leader Alaska Aces. Back home, in Anchorage, beat writer Doyle Woody, wrote that the Aces were ‘almost a mortal lock’ to win this series and move on.
But hardly anyone in Las Vegas reads the daily paper in Anchorage.
While in line to get inside the arena, we got a tap on the shoulder.
“Do you know what I’m wearing,” the man said.
We shook our head no.
“The very first, original Las Vegas Wranglers jersey,” he said.
We looked and he was right – the jersey was sort of faded but it was indeed the very first one.
We bought a program for one dollar, then we moved to the right side of the concourse area to get a pre-game hot dog and a pretzel, no salt. We were working on getting the mustard squared away when another other person asked me “…have you heard the news?”
No, we just walked in, we said.
“There’s a new team coming into town.”
The NHL? we asked.
“No, the NHL is sending in an AHL team, maybe for next season,” he said.
“What arena will they play in?” we asked.
“That’s a situation. They are working on it.”
A hour before the game the music turned on. The lights were sea blue above the ice, then the music blasted and then the little ones started dancing.
Ever since the Wranglers moved into the Orleans Arena the little ones – hundreds and hundreds of them – have danced their hearts out at each and every home game.
At last, it was time for warmups.
Wranglers fans, many wearing the red and white jerseys, moved down to the rink glass to watch the Wranglers hit the ice, get lined up and take turns firing pucks at their goalies. At the other side, no one was at the glass watching the Aces, in powder blue jerseys, warm up.
When warmups were over, the Wranglers fans headed for the top of the tunnel area, trying to touch the Wranglers as they went off the ice and into the locker room.
The older, grey-looking warmup nets were taken off the ice. Two Zamboni’s, one saying ‘Ted Weins’ across the front, cleaned the ice surface. Then two game nets – with freshly painted bright red pipes and glistening-white nets – were carefully slid into position.
The scoreboard clock ticked down and, at last, the horn sounded and the players from both teams began to hit the ice.
The game would start in a few moments.
And in Section 103, we had company coming….
NEXT – GAME ACTION – LAS VEGAS WRANGLERS VS ALASKA ACES IN THE ‘LAST GAME’