Friday, December 11, 2009

Coach says no more excuses after Wranglers lose to Victoria

By Anthony Fenech

Friday, Dec. 11, 2009 | 11:37 p.m.

After dropping their second game in row to Victoria, the Las Vegas Wranglers need to get mentally tough and stop making excuses, head coach Ryan Mougenel said.

“We’re not a young team anymore,” Mougenel said following Friday’s 4-2 loss. “We’re two months into the season and there won’t be excuses any more.”

Twenty-five games into the season, the Wranglers are 9-15-1 and have the lowest team point total in the East Coast Hockey League.

At Friday’s road game against the Salmon Kings, Michael Ouzas stopped 22 of 26 shots. But the Wranglers couldn’t contain Victoria forward Wes Goldie, whose two goals proved to be the difference in the game.

After beating the Salmon Kings three straight games last week, the Wranglers have now dropped two in a row and face a split six-game series if they lose Saturday night.

“Our guys have to take ownership of this team,” Mougenel said. “It’s an important time for us, and we have to understand how to be mentally tough.”

For the second straight game, Las Vegas jumped to an early 1-0 lead, this time thanks to a Ryan Weston goal that extended his scoring streak to four games.

“We got off to a great start with a lot of pressure, scoring a goal that we needed to score,” Mougenel said.

Then, for the second straight game, Victoria responded.

First-period goals by Scott Howes and Goldie provided a lead the Salmon Kings would not relinquish.

“Ouzas wasn’t very sharp,” Mougenel said. “Our defense didn’t give up many really good chances, but they still scored and that was the difference.”

It was Ouzas' first game back after a two-week absence.

“I really wanted to get back out there, but I just wasn’t good enough tonight,” Ouzas said. “I was ready to go, but there were some saves that I had to make and I didn’t make those.”

Francis Lemieux scored his seventh goal of the year, a shorthanded tally at the 6:22 mark of the third period to pull the Wranglers within a goal. But it wasn’t enough as Goldie iced the game six minutes later.

With goals by Weston and Lemieux, both assisted by center Adam Miller and defenseman Robbie Bina, the line of Miller, Weston and Lemieux continued to provide the only offense for the Wranglers.

Power play woes continued as the team went 0 for 7 with the man advantage, falling to 0 for 13 in the series.

“The guys that will play on the power play are guys that will work hard,” Mougenel said. “There are going to be changes.”

The win was Victoria’s fourth straight at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in front of 3,471 fans as they unveiled an alternate jersey.

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