Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wranglers close road series with 3-0 loss to Alaska

By Anthony Fenech

Sunday, Jan. 17, 2010 | 12:46 a.m.

The All-Star break this week couldn't come at a better time for the Las Vegas Wranglers.

After winning seven of their previous eight games, the Wranglers embarked on a four-game road trip that end up a winless one after a 3-0 loss Saturday to the Alaska Aces at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska.

"We committed undisciplined, stupid, lazy and irresponsible penalties, and it put us behind," head coach Ryan Mougenel said. "It caught up to us. There's only so many times you can put a team on a power play."

Alexandre Imbeault scored two second-period goals in the victory and added an assist. He had four points in the two-game series against Las Vegas.

Aces defenseman Bryan Miller opened the scoring late in the first period as Alaska worked a two-man advantage. The power-play goal was his fourth of the year, assisted by Imbeault and T.J. Fast.

Imbeault then scored at the 3:15 and 11:49 marks of the second period, the second goal coming on a power play.

Just a day after the Wranglers dropped below the .500-mark for the first time in two weeks, the Aces climbed back to that mark for the first time in more than a month.

Miller's first-period goal came after Alaska fought off two first-period Las Vegas power plays.

The Wranglers were scoreless on 10 tries with the man advantage Saturday, prolonging their power play scoring drought to 20 opportunities.

They converted just 1 of 24 power plays on the trip.

"It's definitely not the game plan we had going in, but guys aren't buying into things and there are going to be changes around here," Mougenel said.

One of the Wranglers' best opportunities to get on the board came at the 7:27 mark of the second period, but Aces goalie Frank Doyle stopped Wranglers defenseman Chris Frank on a penalty shot.

Renewing the bad blood that was prevalent at the Orleans Arena earlier in the season, both teams combined for 76 penalty minutes on 28 infractions.

There was one ejection, two fights and three roughing calls, in addition to goalkeeper interference and high-sticking double-minor penalty calls.

Matt Kang was whistled for goalkeeper interference with 7:14 remaining in the second period and immediately squared off with Alaska's Derik Martin.

Alaska's Matt Stefanishion was called for the high-sticking double minor and was ejected with just a minute remaining in the third period for attempting to injure a Wranglers player.

Mougenel, who used to coach Stefanishion, said the Alaska right-winger threw a sucker punch at a Las Vegas player.

"It's cowardly what he did," Mougenel said. "But it's par for the course with him.

"He's a kid that played for me and I'm mad at myself for not having an influence on that kid, the way he isn't respecting the game."

The 76 penalty minutes stand third-highest in the season series between the two teams, which racked up 157 minutes on 42 infractions Oct. 23 and 113 minutes on 37 infractions Oct. 24.

"Our penalties weren't physical penalties; they were stupid penalties," Mougenel said. "They weren't penalties where guys were being extra physical."

With the victory, the Aces pushed ahead of the Wranglers in the ECHL overall standings. They meet six more times this season.

Following the All-Star break, the Wranglers once again head out on the road for three games each at Idaho and Utah.

All-star update: Center Adam Miller, who was a late-addition to the National Conference roster, will be participating in the Reebok fastest skater competition during Tuesday night's skills competition.

The 2010 ECHL All-Star Game is hosted by the Ontario Reign and the city of Ontario, Calif. Events will take place Tuesday and Wednesday at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

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