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October 21, 2014

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HOCKEY:

Wranglers open in front of home crowd

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Sam Morris / FILE PHOTO

The Las Vegas Wranglers celebrate an overtime goal during a game April 12 against the Stockton Thunder at the Orleans Arena. The Wranglers are the second-longest-lasting professional sports team in Las Vegas history.

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Glen Gulutzan

Next game

  • Opponent: Ontario Reign
  • Date: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Orleans Arena

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Wranglers coach and general manager Glen Gulutzan has never been into self-promotion or pumping his accomplishments.

Your play speaks for itself. It did when he played and that’s his motto with his Las Vegas players. Results are what matter.

But after becoming the first ECHL coach to guide a team to three consecutive 100-point seasons in the 20-year-old league, Gulutzan is still in Las Vegas.

The only boss the 6-year-old team has ever known will be selecting the starting six and giving the intermission talks tonight when Las Vegas plays its home opener against Ontario at the Orleans Arena.

He might have moved on if his interviews with two National Hockey League organizations, about coaching their American Hockey League clubs, had gone better.

The AHL, a step below the NHL, is a notch above the ECHL.

“You try to be yourself,” Gulutzan said. “That’s what everyone told me. Hey, maybe next time I’ll do a better job selling myself. It’s not in my nature. At some point, you have to do that.”

Anaheim is believed to be one of the franchises that Gulutzan spoke with, but he declined to name them.

He spoke with San Jose Sharks assistant coach Trent Yawney, a friend who is from Gulutzan’s hometown of Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, for interview advice.

Gulutzan guided the Wranglers to their first ECHL Kelly Cup Finals last season. Even though Cincinnati beat Las Vegas in six games, Gulutzan figured he would hear from NHL brass.

Those calls came, but not from officials he knew. He said it was the first time he had talked with “new NHL guys.” Be yourself, Yawney told Gulutzan.

“You don’t want to sell anything you’re not,” Gulutzan said. “I think I got close. You always think you’re close. Maybe you’re farther away, than closer, to getting a job?

“You find out that it’s a lot about who you know. It was nice to have a few guys recognize that we’ve done a pretty decent job here the last few years.”

However, don’t get him wrong. He wants to keep the Wranglers moving forward, to win the Kelly Cup Finals instead of just reaching the championship round.

Although an injury to promising goalie John DeCaro in Alaska over the weekend could be a setback, Gulutzan has recruited a talented group of skaters.

The veteran Ferraro twins, Chris and Peter, Tyler Mosienko and Chris Neiszner will keep pressure on other goalies, and Shawn Limpright and Mike Madill will be solid in the middle and on defense.

The newcomer to watch is Matt Beaudoin (pronounced beau-DWAN), whom the Wranglers had a year ago and dealt to Dayton. He scorched the ice for the Bombers, collecting 68 points (38 goals, 30 assists) in 61 games.

Gulutzan is as excited as ever about a season, even though he might have been on the brink of breaking through to the next level of his business.

In April, he moved his wife, Nicole, and their son and three daughters into a new home in the northwest part of town.

He still looks forward to recruiting to a city like Las Vegas, having an open-ended deal with Wranglers majority owner Charles Davenport and working in a building like the Orleans Arena.

“I’m very fortunate,” Gulutzan said. “There is no better job than the one I have now. There’s certainly no rush for me to get out of here. We enjoy it here. This is our home.

“Now if a good thing comes along we’ll certainly look at it, but we’re not holding our breath.”

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