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September 18, 2014

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HOCKEY:

Wranglers get season’s second win

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Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Las Vegas Sun

Wranglers forward Adam Miller pictured here on Nov. 1, netted a hat trick and an assist Sunday to lead the Las Vegas Wranglers past the Alaska Aces 4-2.

Next game

  • Opponent: @ Phoenix Roadrunners
  • Date: Monday, Nov. 3 6:05 p.m.
  • Where: U.S. Airways Center

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” blared in the Las Vegas Wranglers’ locker room after Friday night’s showdown with the Stockton Thunder – and with good reason.

Las Vegas put on quite an offensive show at the Orleans Arena as five Wranglers players scored en route to a 5-1 trouncing of the Thunder for Las Vegas’ second win of the season.

“A lot of teams have fire power, but it’s good to see community scoring because it makes everyone a bit more confident out there,” said Wranglers coach and general manager Glen Gulutzan.

Prior to Friday’s contest the Wranglers’ offense was largely lethargic as it averaged just 2.6 goals per game. Only two other ECHL teams had more trouble scoring than the Wranglers.

But all of that Halloween candy must have energized Las Vegas, because it shelled Thunder goaltender Bryan Pitton on 23 shots.

Chris Neiszner started the offensive onslaught when he connected on a one-timer from Tyler Mosienko less than six minutes into the game to hand the Wranglers a 1-0 lead.

Mosienko netted a goal of his own in the final two minutes of that same period with a wrap-aaround score assisted by Tim Spencer and Chris Ferraro.

With a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission, the Wranglers ran away with the game as Chris Korchinski and Ferraro added goals in the second period to boost the Wranglers’ lead to 4-0.

Aside from allowing one goal to Stockton forward James Bates late in the second period, Las Vegas goalie John DeCaro did his part in maintaining the lead.

DeCaro stopped 20 of 21 shots he faced in his first game back since injuring his leg in the season opener Oct. 17. DeCaro also helped the Wranglers kill six power plays.

“We are a hard team to play against if we get that first goal and we showed that tonight,” DeCaro said. “(Stockton) is a good, quick team and I thought we handled them pretty well ... It’s always a good feeling to get back out there and play well and win.”

Immediate impact: Newly acquired defensemen Brandon Straub and P.J. Atherton from the American Hockey League wasted no time making their presence felt in their first games wearing a Wranglers jerseys.

Late in the first period Straub lived up to his enforcer reputation as he went toe-to-toe with Stockton forward Adam Huxley at the end of the first period.

The two traded heavy blows while bringing the crowd to its feet.

Atherton, a former Grand Rapids Griffin (AHL), scored his first goal in Las Vegas when he ripped a blue line slapshot past Pitton to seal the contest at 5-1 with 13:55 remaining in the game.

“They are both huge assets,” DeCaro said about his two new defensemen. “Straub is good defensively and he can obviously throw them when needed. P.J. is smooth out there. You can just tell he can play. Those two will definitely help us.”

Stars of the game: 1. Chris Ferraro (1G, 2A), 2. John DeCaro (20 saves), 3. Tyler Mosienko (1G, 1A)

Going streaking: The Wranglers are now 17-3-1 all-time against the Thunder. Although Las Vegas owns Stockton on the ice, Gulutzan tried to be more diplomatic following the game.

“I think in the first few years they were an expansion team so that certainly helped, but in the last two years it hasn’t been too bad,” Gulutzan said. “They are solid. They are going to be a very a good team. They didn’t get great goaltending tonight, which kind of demoralized them a bit, but they are going to be a very good team.”

Eye in the sky: ECHL supervisor of officials Jim Doyle kept a watchful eye on the officiating crew Friday as he conducted one of the league’s periodic evaluations of the referees. Head ref Jarrod Ragusin’s whistle saw plenty of action with 14 penalties called.

Best costume of the night: Wranglers media relations director Josh Fisher dressed up as Borat and conducted the intermission interviews with players in his best Borat accent. Someone get the man an Oscar.

Heavy heart: Wranglers right-winger Peter Ferraro didn't dress for Friday’s game so he could be with his girlfriend, who was injured in a car accident late Friday afternoon.

Attendance: 3,381

Up next: Las Vegas travels to the U.S. Airways Center to face the Phoenix Roadrunners at 6:05 p.m. Monday.

Last word: “We put one game together last weekend that was pretty good and now it’s about putting games together like this back to back to back,” Gulutzan said. “That’s what good teams do. Right? If you get satisfied with just playing one good game, you’re never going to be a very good team.”

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