Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wranglers' skid continues with 6-4 loss to Victoria

By Anthony Fenech

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010 | 11:53 p.m.

The Victoria Salmon Kings pushed past the Las Vegas Wranglers in the third period Wednesday for a 6-4 victory, making it four losses — two in the standings and two on the roster — in two days for the Wranglers.

"It's unfortunate that we really couldn't control the outcome in this one," head coach Ryan Mougenel said. "We really lost our focus, and I take full responsibility for that."

The loss concludes a tumultuous two-game road trip to British Columbia, where the team hasn't won in its past five tries. The Wranglers also return to Las Vegas down two players.

Center Justin Bernhardt tore his MCL on the second shift of Tuesday's game, and Robbie Bina informed the club Wednesday that he would pursue hockey overseas.

"We're all professionals," Mougenel said. "We're coming to the rink, doing a job we love and I don't think it should play any factor. I love this group. I'll go to war with this group, and I think our guys will respond."

Two late power-play goals on two-man advantages by the Salmon Kings proved to be the difference Wednesday.

The Salmon Kings scored on Wranglers goalie Joel Gistedt six times on 46 shots, the most the Wranglers have allowed this season.

"They're an extremely offensive team," Mougenel said. "When you give a team eight power plays, there will be trouble. I thought Joel was phenomenal."

For the second consecutive game, Olivier Latendresse scored the game-winning goal with assists from Wes Goldie and Jimmy Sharrow.

The goal came with 11:57 remaining in the third period, after the Wranglers had killed the first six Victoria power plays.

Chad Painchaud then set a new club record with a power-play goal just 3:27 later, becoming the first Salmon Kings player to record a point in 12 consecutive games.

"Two-man advantages are tough to defend," Mougenel said. "It's a tough way to lose a game. Were those deserved? That's up to the league to review."

"I'm obviously not happy with the outcome or how it was handled from my side, my players' side and the officials' side," he said. "There has to be accountability on all sides."

Down one goal heading into the third period, Las Vegas defenseman Greg Collins tied the score 3:15 in.

Just 16 seconds later, Victoria responded with a goal from left-winger Scott Howes to reclaim the lead.

Howes' tally was followed 21 seconds later by Ned Lukacevic scoring his 15th goal of the year.

"I did think the guys did a good job of responding, coming back and playing hard," Mougenel said.

Lukacevic's goal gave him a seven-game point streak, and Shay Stephenson and Craig Switzer each recorded a goal and assist on the game.

The loss drops the Wranglers to .500 on the year, with 16 wins and 16 losses.

They travel next to Alaska for two games against the Aces, the fourth and fifth games of their 10-game road trip.

Bina update: The defenseman has signed with a team from Norway, Mougenel said, although no specific team was named.

Mougenel said he was informed of the news by Bina after last night's game and that, "it hit me like a sucker punch to the solar plexus."

"I was 100 percent surprised," he said. "I had no idea and neither did any of his teammates."

"I voiced my concerns, and I wish him all the best. I still think he's a special kid and a special player."

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