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November 23, 2014

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Phoenix extends Wranglers’ losing skid

Hockey Talk

Surviving the crash

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Las Vegas Wranglers' beat writer Steve Silver joins Ray Brewer to lament about the Wranglers' collapse in their last home stand.

Not only did the Las Vegas Wranglers commit three penalties in the final two minutes of Monday's 2-1 loss to the Phoenix Roadrunners, but veteran forward Chris Ferraro received a game misconduct for verbally abusing officials and Tyler Mosienko started a fight as time expired.

Yes, "frustration" is officially the new buzzword in the Wranglers' organization.

"It's definitely frustrating," Mosienko said. "With these last few games I think we fell in love with ourselves a little bit and we only kind of worked when we wanted to. I think there was a little more in the tank where we could have played a little harder, at least tonight for sure."

After stringing together an impressive eight-game win streak, the Wranglers have now dropped three straight games, including two at home.

Monday's defeat in front of 3,693 fans at the Orleans Arena stung a bit more because the Roadrunners (22-23-3) are last in the Pacific Division and second-worst in the entire National Conference.

"Part of this team's problem is that they think they should beat some teams and some teams they think they have to play really good against," said Wranglers coach and general manager Glen Gulutzan. "The teams they think they have to play really good against they try harder or they don't get as frustrated."

After a scoreless first period Monday in which the Wranglers (26-20-5) missed several juicy scoring chances, Mosienko buried a pass from Sean Owens to put Las Vegas up 1-0 with 13:51 remaining in the second period.

At this point the Wranglers seemed poised to regain the Pacific Division lead since Las Vegas was 22-3-2 when scoring first.

But the Roadrunners had other plans.

Phoenix defenseman and former Wrangler Jim Jorgensen left the penalty box at the perfect moment to receive a long pass that set up a breakaway. He capitalized on the opportunity and snapped a laser past Glenn Fisher to tie the game 1-1.

Midway through the third period, Phoenix center Merit Waldrop netted a power play goal and the eventual game-winner to lift the Roadrunners to a 2-1 lead.

"I think we might have let up a little bit," said Owens, who moved from defense to right wing to fill in for the numerous AHL call-ups. "The game was there for us. We just didn't quite get there. We were a step behind."

With regular defensemen like Owens and Mike Madill forced to play in forward slots, the Wranglers' offense struggled to generate many shots as the Roadrunners outshot the Wranglers 39-23.

Although only trailing by one goal, the Wranglers spent nearly eight of the final nine minutes of the game short-handed due to a string of penalties.

"In the last eight minutes we just couldn't mount any sort of attack because we kept taking penalties," Gulutzan said.

Stars of the game: 1. Jim Jorgensen (1 goal, 1 assist); 2. Kyle Jones (22 saves); 3. Glenn Fisher (37 saves)

Road warriors: The Wranglers will now embark on a massive road trip that includes 10 straight road games in six cities. Las Vegas is 11-10-3 away from the Orleans Arena.

"We love the road," Mosienko said "We get to spend a lot of time together as a team. We started this roll on Victoria and we are going to pick it up in Idaho."

Las Vegas will face Idaho, Alaska, Bakersfield, Phoenix, Stockton and Ontario on their road trip and before returning home on March 13 to face the Idaho Steelheads at 7:30 p.m. The First 2,000 fans at that game will receive Wranglers rally towels.

Injury update: Forward Mick Lawrence missed his second consecutive game Monday with a strained neck muscle. He is currently on the three-day injured list retroactive to Sunday.

Next up: The Wranglers kick off their length road trip against the Idaho Steelheads (27-16-3) at 6:10 p.m. Wednesday.

Final word: "You can't take a step back like this in these last two games," Mosienko said. "No matter what the schedule is you have to find a way to win these games. These teams are below us in standings and you can't give up games to these kinds of teams."

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

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