Sunday, February 21, 2010

Late goals down Wranglers, 3-1, on the road

By Anthony Fenech

Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010 | 9:42 p.m.

A pair of third-period goals on the road Sunday night sunk the Las Vegas Wranglers' quest for a series victory after a 3-1 loss to the Alaska Aces.

Brad Miller and Judd Blackwater each netted goals in the final period to take the rubber match of a three-game series in Anchorage, Alaska.

"This is playoff hockey," said Wranglers captain Chris Neiszner. "It's a 60-minute game now and it's what we've been working for. Tonight was a perfect example of not getting the job done in the third period."

After Las Vegas' Mick Lawrence opened the scoring at the 10:50 mark of the first period, Alaska scored three unanswered goals past Wranglers goaltender Jimmy Spratt.

"We were fine going into the third," Neiszner said. "We showed at times this series we were ready and we showed at other times that we aren't."

Blackwater, a 22-year-old left-winger from Lethbridge, Alberta, has had the Wranglers' number this series, scoring three goals and tallying five points.

After taking a one-goal lead into the first intermission, the Wranglers allowed the tying goal at 1:11 into the second period.

Nick Tuzzolino's ninth goal of the season was on the power play for Alaska, as the Wranglers were unable to kill Jerry Pollastrone's interference penalty that carried over from the first period.

Alaska's Miller and Blackwater then scored just over a minute apart to pad the lead.

"Obviously, it was disappointing," Wranglers head coach Ryan Mougenel said of the third period. "Our best players were our worst players and it was a disappointing end to the road trip."

Las Vegas was outshot for the third consecutive game and ended the three-game trip to Alaska with three points on the road, but still without a road series victory.

"I'm happy we got three points but it's also disappointing," Mougenel said. "Three points is nowhere near what this team is capable of."

The Aces improved on their fourth-best position in the ECHL in penalty killing, blanking the Wranglers on four opportunities.

Las Vegas (22-24-6, 50 points) resumes play Friday against the Stockton Thunder at the Orleans Arena.

"Push is coming to shove for us," Mougenel said. "I'm excited to get back home and get this thing going.

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