Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wranglers jump to early lead, down Bakersfield, 6-2

By Anthony Fenech

Saturday, March 14, 2010 | 4:27 a.m.

The Las Vegas Wranglers weren’t going to fall behind in this game.

Propelled by three goals in the second period, the Wranglers jumped out to a four-goal lead and chased Bakersfield goaltender Tyler Sims to a 6-2 victory Saturday night.

“I thought guys had great looks out there,” head coach Ryan Mougenel said. “And it wasn’t just the good looks. It was the executing.”

The victory is the Wranglers’ third consecutive over the Pacific Division-leading Condors.

“I thought we played probably 40 really good minutes, maybe 50,” Mougenel said. “I thought we had a little bit of a lapse in the third, but that’s to be understood.”

Las Vegas netted a season-high four power-play goals in the contest, the second straight game they have scored two or more with the man-advantage.

The first came with just more than two minutes remaining in the first period, when Mick Lawrence backhanded a feed from Adam Miller through Sims’ five-hole.

“We’re moving to the net and stuff is finally working,” Lawrence said.

The second goal also came courtesy of the Lawrence-Miller duo.

Midway through the second period, Miller found Lawrence camped to the right of Sims and threaded a pass through the crease. The Wranglers left-winger knocked it home for his 22nd goal of the season.

“It’s fun playing with that line,” Lawrence said. “We’re always skating and moving. It’s always fast pace and with Miller especially, he’s definitely got a knack for the back of the net.”

Lawrence’s second goal of the contest put Bakersfield in a four-goal hole, and Condors head coach Marty Raymond elected to put Timo Pielmeier in the game.

Wranglers goalie Jimmy Spratt stopped 35 of 37 shots in the victory.

“We came out and right from the get-go, we were ready to go,” Spratt said. “They’re playing real good in front of me and I’m seeing a lot of pucks.”

Between the two Lawrence power-play goals, right-winger Alex Bourret and center Josh Prudden each tallied goals for Las Vegas.

Bourret’s goal came at the 4:51 mark of the period on a breakaway. Nearing the net, he wound up for a slap shot but drew Sims out of his goal and sliding the puck past his outstretched right pad for his 13th goal of the season.

“We’re playing well on both sides of the puck,” Mougenel said. “But we still have to tighten things up on defense. But for the most part, I’m real proud with the way the guys have responded.”

Prudden’s goal came courtesy of forward Jerry Pollastrone, the two weaving a tic-tac-toe of passes on a 2-on-1 that led to Prudden finding Sims’ five-hole for a goal.

Early in the third period, defenseman Craig Switzer scored the Wranglers’ third power-play goal of the game, a shot from the left point that beat Pielmeier.

Switzer’s goal was followed by another power-play tally, Miller’s 26th goal of the season from Bourret at the 10:58 mark.

Las Vegas has scored on seven of their past 12 man-advantages.

“Everybody is out there having fun,” Miller said. “We feel like we’re one of the better teams in the league, and it’s shown in our play of late.”

Three stars: 1. Mick Lawrence (two goals, assist); 2. Jimmy Spratt (35 saves); 3. Alex Bourret (goal, assist).

Roster report: This past week, the Wranglers added two players to their roster, forward Tomas Petruska and defenseman John Wessbecker. Petruska was signed to an amateur tryout agreement from Bowling Green and Wessbecker was acquired from the Trenton Devils in a trade for future considerations.

Going bald: Benefiting St. Baldrick’s for children’s cancer awareness, head coach Ryan Mougenel, three players — Prudden, Michael Ouzas, and Mat Deschamps — and equipment manager Jeff Maxwell are shaving their heads after today’s game.

Knocked out: Captain Chris Neiszner answered the bell late in the third period when Bakersfield’s R. Menei came calling. After the two tussled near center ice, Menei’s jersey slipped off and Neiszner promptly knocked him down with two left hooks.

Up next: Bakersfield, today at the Orleans Arena. With a win, the Wranglers draw within 2 points of the Pacific Division lead.

Final word: “They’re not going to lay down,” Spratt said of Bakersfield.

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