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July 29, 2014

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HOCKEY:

Futile power play costs Wranglers again

The Las Vegas Wranglers and winning streaks do not mix well.

With a chance to ride their first three-game victory march of the season, the Wranglers fell flat Saturday night as the Alaska Aces narrowly escaped the Orleans Arena with a 4-3 edge in front of 4,537 fans. Las Vegas (12-14-2) is now just 8-6 at home.

The Aces (17-11-1) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period thanks to a pair of goals by center Alexandre Imbeault and another by defenseman Tony Tuzzolino.

Wranglers left winger Shawn Limpright tapped in a feed from Matt Beaudoin with 41 seconds remaining in the first period, but coach Glen Gulutzan knew his squad needed a more drastic spark.

Gulutzan pulled goalie Kevin Lalande, who allowed three goals on just seven shots, in favor of John DeCaro during the first intermission.

"Those goals weren't all Kevin's fault, but I just wanted to try to give the skaters a jolt," Gulutzan said.

That managerial move seemed to have worked, as Limpright banged in his second goal of the night less than one minute into the second period to cut Alaska's lead to 3-2.

But Imbeault's scoring flurry was not done as he notched a hat trick on a power play goal with 3:30 remaining in the second period to put the Aces back on top by two goals, 4-2.

Peter Ferraro tried to rally the Wranglers with his second goal of the season midway through the third period, but Las Vegas failed to come any closer to Alaska.

Despite out-shooting the Aces 35-23, the most glaring problem for the Wranglers continues to be their inept power play.

The Wranglers, already ranked last in the ECHL on the power play, blew seven more special teams opportunities Saturday night to drop to an 11.1 percent success rate, scoring just 18 goals on 162 chances.

"You have the worst power play in the league going against the best penalty kill in the league so it didn't stand for a good matchup in the beginning," Gulutzan said. "We just haven't found a way to score on the power play."

Stars of the game: 1. Alexandre Imbeault (3 goals); 2. Shawn Limpright (2G); 3. Colin Hemingway (3 assists)

Going streaking: Wranglers forward Adam Miller extended his four-game point streak Saturday with an assist on Limpright's first period goal. Miller now has five assists in his last four games. Miller has registered three goals and 14 assists in 27 games this season.

Matt Beaudoin continues to ride a hot streak in December with two assists Saturday night. Beaudoin has recorded eight goals and four assists in eight games this month.

Roster report: Following Friday's 3-1 victory over Phoenix, the Quad City Flames of the American Hockey League recalled center Hugo Carpentier.

The Calgary Flames organization also suspended forward Dan Ryder indefinitely for violating team rules. The Flames drafted Ryder 74th overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Ryder appeared in four games for the Wranglers but did not register a point.

Up next: The Wranglers will clash with the Aces one more time for a bit of afternoon delight at 2:05 p.m. Sunday at the Orleans Arena.

Final word: "Our power play needs to get better for sure," Gulutzan said. "It has to be better than this."

Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].

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