What Happens In Vegas … Is Some Marquee Hockey

By George Johnson
Calgary Herald

LAS VEGAS – There’s murderous competition for the entertainment dollar when marquees dotting the landscape include Cirque’s Zumanity at the New York New York, renowned conjurer David Copperfield at the MGM Grand and Monty Python’s Spamalot at the Wynn.

Spoiled for choice in Vegas, they are. If there’s one show on The Strip that’s worth the $139.50 for an orchestra seat, though . . .

“Oh, Blue Man Group. Definitely,” enthuses Kevin Lalande. “At the Venetian. I’ve seen it three or four times. It’s fabulous. The first time, I was absolutely blown away. Any time friends or family come into town, that’s where I take them.”

There’s another show, now on a limited run, that he also highly recommends.

Thursday, at the 7,700-seat Orleans Arena. Game 3 of the ECHL championship series, for the Kelly Cup, Las Vegas Wranglers vs. Cincinnati Cyclones.

A bargain, at only $35, plus tax.

The Wranglers, the team that brought you Mullet Hat Night, the annual Midnight Holiday Roundup (a once-a-season game with puck drop at 12 o’clock to accommodate employees who work in the gaming business) and the immortal promotional giveaway of orange vests that read: ‘Don’t Shoot . . . I’m Human!’ after eagle-eyed vice-president Dick Cheney’s infamous hunting incident, are currently tied 1-1 with the Cyclones heading into the third installment of this 2-3-2 final.

After three consecutive 100-point plus seasons, the Wranglers continue their search for a first championship.

Four of their key men — goaltender Lalande, centre Aki Seitsonen, left-winger Ryan Donally and right-winger Adam Cracknell — are Calgary Flames’ property.

The affiliation ties don’t end there. Wrangler marketers have twisted the Pengrowth Saddledome’s signature Sea of Red into a Red Sea for Game 3 slogan on Thursday night at the Orleans.

“This,” says Cracknell, tied for second in ECHL playoff scoring with 21 points, “is a good place to develop. I get lots of ice time, I’m working on things that will help me make the next step, like defensive zone coverage, and we have a good group of guys, a winning team.

“There are a lot of young players in this league trying to make the next step up to the AHL, so it’s a lot more competitive than it used to be.”

Full Story