Saturday, February 6, 2010

Wranglers struggle on power play, lose 4-2 to Idaho

By Anthony Fenech

Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010 | 11:38 p.m.

The Las Vegas Wranglers allowed their third hat trick in four games Saturday night, losing 4-2 to the Idaho Steelheads at the Orleans Arena.

Steelheads left-winger Mark Derlago scored three goals in the victory, giving him eight points in the three-game series.

"Our game plan was to try to get low and tire them out," Derlago said. "It worked out for us in this one."

Derlago and teammate Tyler Spurgeon provided Idaho with all the offense they needed, as the Wranglers once again struggled with the power play, going 0-6 on the man-advantage.

"I didn't like anything we did tonight," Wranglers head coach Ryan Mougenel said. "We had every opportunity to win the game on the power play and we didn't."

The Wranglers took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, courtesy of back-to-back goals from Alex Bourret and Ned Lukacevic, responding to Derlago's game-opening goal.

"We came out and did all the little things we wanted to," left-winger Mick Lawrence said. "But we came out flat and got away from some of the things we were doing in the first period and never got on track."

Derlago's back-to-back goals in the second period put the Steelheads ahead for good.

With under two minutes played in the period, he scored the equalizer on Wranglers goalie Michael Ouzas, and seven minutes later he completed the hat trick on the most unlikely of goals.

With seemingly the entire two teams jumbled together in front of Ouzas' net, the puck bounced around as players tried to gain possession.

"I think everyone was in the crease," Derlago said. "Maybe seven, eight guys were there. My helmet came off and then the puck just came to my stick and it went in. It was one of the funnier goals I've scored."

Derlago emerged from the pack without his helmet but with his eighth point of the series, which extends his points streak to 12 games.

In the three-game series, Derlago and Spurgeon, who scored to ice the game with just over two minutes to play, combined for nine goals and 16 points.

The Wranglers inconsistencies on the power play reached a boiling point with the Orleans Arena crowd midway through the third period, when Idaho's Cody Lampl was whistled for a high-sticking double minor.

On the power play for four minutes, Las Vegas only mustered two shots and drew boos from the 4,653 in attendance.

"I have nothing to say to the fans," Mougenel said. "I worry about the team."

The 0-6 power play night came just a day after the team tallied two power-play goals.

"Our power play is not good enough, and it's got to be the difference in the game in a positive way and not a negative way," captain Chris Neiszner said.

The Wranglers were out-shot 35-24 in the loss, and Ouzas, who leads the league in minutes played and saves, stopped 31 of 35 shots.

"This is definitely a missed opportunity," Lawrence said. "Nobody in here is happy with three points over the weekend."

Three stars: 1. Idaho's Mark Derlago (hat trick); 2. Idaho's Mark McCutcheon (four assists); 3. Idaho's Tyler Spurgeon (goal, two assists)

Back in black: After donning their red jerseys the first two games of the Idaho series, the Wranglers took the ice in black on Saturday night.

Feelin' blue: Blue Man Group made appearances during the first and second intermissions, entertaining the crowd by painting a Wranglers logo using their paint-filled drums.

Up next: A home-and-home series with the Bakersfield Condors starting Friday at the Orleans Arena.

Final word: "Obviously I don't have the right people on the power play," Mougenel said.

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