Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wranglers struggle on road with 3-1 loss to Alaska

By Anthony Fenech

Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010 | 12:31 a.m.

The Las Vegas Wranglers are just three games into their longest time away from the Orleans Arena this season, and they already appear to be homesick.

They dropped their third consecutive game Friday with a 3-1 loss to the Alaska Aces at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.

"We weren't ready to play tonight," head coach Ryan Mougenel said. "Guys aren't competing and guys aren't working. Right now, we have too many passengers."

"Guys are thinking they can just put their sticks in there and it's going to get done," he said. "But there's a certain kind of work ethic and culture that comes with it."

A two-goal, first-period deficit was too much to overcome. Center Josh Prudden's secod-period goal, his fifth score of the season, was Las Vegas' only tally of the night on 25 shots.

For the first time in eight games, left-winger Ned Lukacevic was held scoreless and for the fourth straight game the Wranglers allowed the first goal of the game.

Just past the midway point of the first period, Alaska struck for two quick goals in just 1:53.

Alexandre Imbeault scored his 14th goal of the year followed by Matt Stefanishion scoring his 12th not even two minutes later, putting Las Vegas in an early hole.

"Playing catch-up is a tough thing to do in this league," Mougenel said.

Prudden cut the Aces lead to just one goal 22 seconds into the first half with a goal assisted by Andrew Orpik and Shay Stephenson.

The game was iced with just more than three minutes remaining, when Alaska's Scott Burt connected on a goal from Stefanishion and defenseman T.J. Fast.

Las Vegas now has a 3-14 record on the road this season versus a 13-7 mark at home.

"We're just not getting it done on the road and it's not acceptable," Mougenel said. "We need to rectify this and find out what our problem is playing on the road."

The loss puts the team on the wrong side of .500 for the first time since Jan. 2, though Las Vegas still is in second place in the ECHL Pacific Division.

Alaska remains in the basement of the West Division, one point ahead of the Wranglers in the overall standings.

The Wranglers wrap up their four-game road trip with an 8:15 p.m. game against the Aces on Saturday before heading into the All-Star break early next week.

"The beauty of it is we have an opportunity to rebound tomorrow," Mougenel said. "I'm not happy with coasting into the break and just getting there. We're paid professionals. This is our job to get ourselves out of the situation that we're in."

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