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October 22, 2014

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HOCKEY:

Bakersfield pummels Wranglers on prison uniform night

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Justin M. Bowen

The Wranglers wear jerseys with horizontal black and white stripes while the Condors sport orange jumpsuit-style jerseys. The referees wear police outfits to fit with the theme of the night.

"Rod Blagojevich Prison Uniform Night"

The Wranglers wear jerseys with horizontal black and white stripes while the Condors sport orange jumpsuit-style jerseys. The referees wear police outfits to fit with the theme of the night. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas Wranglers coach and general manager Glen Gulutzan would probably like to lock up his players after a miserable performance Friday night.

The Wranglers played as if they were wearing handcuffs as the Bakersfield Condors escaped the Orleans Arena with a 3-1 victory in front of 6,327 fans on "Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Prison Uniform Night."

Las Vegas struggled to find any offensive rhythm as Bakersfield out-shot the Wranglers 38-16. The Wranglers only mustered eight shots in the final two periods.

"As a coach you just question how badly guys really want to play when you see that," Gulutzan said. "There is no effort. Guys were looking for an easy one and it wasn't there tonight."

Trouble started early for the Wranglers (18-18-4) when they failed to capitalize on four power play opportunities in the first period.

The Wranglers finished the night 0-for-5 on the power play, keeping that special teams unit in the cellar of the ECHL. Las Vegas has only scored 25 times in 221 power play chances this season for a paltry 11.3 percent success rate.

"It's frustrating," Gulutzan said. "We did video today and we went over Bakersfield's power play defense. Then we had four power plays in the first period and three older guys that have been here for a couple years were just doing their own thing. I might as well have just watched the video myself in this room and pretended to show them. It's not even worth my time."

After more than 35 minutes of scoreless hockey, the Condors (14-23-6) drew first blood when Bret Pilkington buried his own rebound with 4:23 remaining in the second period.

Bakersfield then extended its lead to 2-0 just two minutes later on a nifty backhand shot by Mark Derlango.

The Condors dominated that second period, out-shooting the Wranglers 21-3.

"No one was ready to play and no one wants to play," Gulutzan said. "Our older guys only want to play about 40 games, our younger guys want to go to the Palms and the middle guys are left holding the bag."

Less than four minutes into the third period Matt Pope sent the Orleans crowd to the exits with a power play goal to put the Condors on top 3-0.

Tyler Mosienko was the only Wrangler to light up the scoreboard, with 4:32 remaining in the game.

But ultimately their was no comeback bid in the cards for the Wranglers.

Pack your bags: Gulutzan is so disgusted by his team's performance recently that he said he is considering trading six or seven players soon to try to spark a rally for the playoffs.

"When you have mental problems, you can take whatever pills you want and you're probably going to have them for a long time," Gulutzan said. "That's what this team has. It has mental problems. Just when you think you have it straightened out, another mood comes in. In the sports world this team is a weak hockey club. That's exactly what they are … Trading six or seven guys is the only way to try to cure it."

Worn out goalie: Goalie Kevin Lalande started for the Wranglers last Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday before flying to Houston on Wednesday to start for the Quad City Flames on Thursday. Lalande then flew back to Las Vegas Friday morning to skate against Bakersfield.

He made 35 saves Friday night, but did not have much defensive support.

"Our guys who were sitting here all week going to the Palms couldn't muster anything until five minutes left, then they ask me if we are going to pull the goalie," Gulutzan said. "Why should we pull the goalie? They hadn't worked hard enough to deserve it."

Prison party: Although the Wranglers' players did not seem to have any energy for the prison night festivities, the team's marketing department went all out for the "Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich Prison Uniform Night" promotion.

Not only did both teams wear prison-themed jerseys, but the refs even dressed as policemen. The goal judges wore black robes with old English style white wigs to get in on the act too. The maintenance crew even erected metal bars around the penalty box to make it resemble a jail cell.

Off the ice, fans could take home their very own mug shot thanks to a mock jail lineup booth in the Orleans Arena concourse. The movie clips and songs relating to prison played throughout the game were also a nice touch.

The highlight of the night had to be when the real Las Vegas Chief Judge Ann Zimmerman dropped the ceremonial first puck. Then again, Wranglers' media relations director Josh Fisher did broadcast the entire game in a prisoner costume, complete with handcuffs.

Stars of the game: 1. Chad Painchaud (2 assists); 2. Mark Derlago (1 goal, 1 assists); 3. Kevin Lalande (35 saves)

Next up: The Condors stay in Las Vegas for a rematch Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

Final word: "There wasn't a spark tonight," Wranglers forward Adam Miller said. "We didn't play as a team. We are just biting our tongue trying to figure out what happened. This one is a tough one to swallow.

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

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