Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wranglers come from behind but fall short against Aces

By Anthony Fenech

Saturday, March 20, 2010 | 12:24 a.m.

The Las Vegas Wranglers played another come-from-behind game Friday night, but fell just short in a 3-2 loss to the Alaska Aces.

“It’s a tough way to lose,” Wranglers head coach Ryan Mougenel said. “For the most part, we dictated the play. We had enough opportunities to win the game and we didn’t.”

“We missed assignments, and it’s unacceptable,” he said.

Bryan Miller’s wrist shot with 37.7 seconds left on the clock beat Joel Gistedt glove-side to break Las Vegas’ five-game win streak and draws Alaska even with the Wranglers in the National Conference points race.

“When we’re that close, we need to squeeze, because every point is that big,” defenseman Mike Madill said. “Just to have forced overtime to get that extra one would have been great.”

Miller’s goal came seconds after it appeared the Wranglers scored on the opposite end of the ice.

The game-winning tally came four minutes after Las Vegas staged yet another comeback, as Madill’s slap shot from the point beat Alaska goaltender Scott Reid to tie the game at two.

“There were some things open and I just let it go; got kind of lucky there,” Madill said.

The goal was assisted by Alex Bourret and Adam Miller and came with the man-advantage.

Trailing by a goal entering the third period, Alaska’s Tyson Marsh scored 6:04 into the period to give the Aces a two-goal lead and came on a 4-on-4, with one player from each team off the ice for matching roughing minors.

“I hated our start,” Mougenel said. “I thought we were lackadaisical and a little complacent off the hop, but I’d like to see us get after it right off the hop.”

Alaska left-winger Jarrett Konkle opened the game three shifts in with his 13th goal of the season to put the Wranglers in an early hole.

Five minutes after Marsh’s goal, Bourret scored his 15th goal of the year at the 11:04 mark of the third to cut the Alaska lead in half. He was assisted by Miller and Krischuk.

“Today everyone played a lot tighter,” Madill said. “I think we were trying to make fewer mistakes. We just have to get back at them tomorrow and try to get four [points] for the weekend.”

Gistedt made his first start in ten days and stopped 21 of 24 Alaska shots.

“He made some big saves at times,” Mougenel said. “You can’t fault Joel on that last shot. Was it saveable? It could have been.”

His counterpart, Reid, stopped 33 of 35 and was twice involved in goal-scoring interference plays.

In the second period, a Jeff Hazelwood goal was called back when center Josh Prudden was called for goaltender interference, and after Madill’s game-tying goal in the third period, Reid was enraged that no call was made.

“I do think it should have counted,” Mougenel said. “But that’s a judgment call by the referee.”

“I was disappointed, but it’s one of those things,” he said. “You create your own opportunities, and it just didn’t go our way tonight.”

Three stars: 1. Alaska’s Bryan Miller (game-winning goal); 2. Mike Madill (goal); 3. Alex Bourret (goal, assist).

Ouzas update: Goaltender Michael Ouzas is still nursing a high-ankle sprain. He remains on the three-day injured reserve.

Strong streak: Las Vegas’ Miller had two assists, pushing his points-streak to 13 games.

Attendance report: Friday night’s paid attendance of 5,057 was the fourth-highest of the season.

Up next: The rubber match of the three-game series takes place at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at the Orleans Arena.

Final word: “It will sting for a little bit,” Mougenel said. “But then it’s on to our task tomorrow.”

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