Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, March 21, 2009 | 11:30 p.m.
- Rookie’s hot debut ignites Wranglers (3-21-09)
- Stellar goaltending extends Wranglers’ hot streak (3-18-09)
- Fisher garners ECHL honor (3-17-09)
- Wranglers stymie Steelheads again (3-14-09)
- Wranglers open home stand in grand fashion (3-13-09)
- Battle rages over fighting (3-13-09)
- Wranglers return home with decimated record and roster (3-12-09)
The Alaska Aces proved why they are the top team in the National Conference as they dismantled the Las Vegas Wranglers 3-1 Saturday night.
The Aces (42-22-3) scored two third period goals to snap the Wranglers' (31-27-8) four-game win streak in front of 6,301 fans at the Orleans Arena. Alaska is now 6-2 against Las Vegas this season.
"They outplayed us tonight, that's for sure," said Las Vegas coach and general manager Glen Gulutzan. "I thought they created more chances than we did and they won a few more battles than we did. We made some mistakes too."
Saturday's showdown started off with the intensity of a playoff game as Tim Spencer and Robin Richards dropped the gloves after the opening face off. That physical tone resonated throughout the night as each team picked up nine penalties totaling 42 minutes in the box.
While the Wranglers struggled to create scoring chances on their five power play chances, the Aces capitalized on their first power play chance as Luke Erikson slipped a slap shot through a screen to put Alaska on top 1-0 midway through the first period.
"I felt that our defense made some lazy plays -- some weak plays," Gulutzan said.
The Wranglers clawed back into the game late in the second period as Chris Ferraro tallied his 21st goal of the season with a blazing wrist shot from the right circle.
But the Aces owned the third period as Colin Hemingway and Scott Burt each scored to seal Alaska's victory.
"You make a mistake and they put it in the net," Gulutzan said. "They are a dangerous team. You can't do that. You have to be efficient, you can't make those mistakes and we were making those mistakes throughout the game."
Despite the loss, Las Vegas remains only five points behind their next opponent, Ontario Reign (35-27-5), for the Pacific Division lead with seven games remaining in the season.
The Wranglers travel to Ontario for a 5 p.m. showdown with the Reign on Sunday.
Stars of the game: 1. Colin Hemingway (1 goal); 2. Luke Erikson (1 goal, 1 assist); 3. Chris Ferraro (1 goal)
Roster report: Goaltender John DeCaro returned to the Wranglers lineup Saturday after returning from the Portland Pirates of the American Hockey League.
DeCaro is 10-4-0 with .933 save percentage and 1.94 goals against average in 17 games with the Wranglers. While with Portland, DeCaro went 3-0-0.
Gulutzan said DeCaro will start Sunday against the Reign.
Powerless play: The Wranglers shortcomings on the power play were painfully evident Saturday as they failed to capitalize on five power play chances. Las Vegas is last in the ECHL with a 11.7 success rate (38-of-325) on the power play.
Rogaine ready: Several Wranglers headed to McMullan's Irish Pub following Saturday's game to have their heads shaved for the St. Baldrick's Foundation to raise money to battle childhood cancer.
This year Sean Owens, Mike Madills, Brandon Straub, Bret Tyler, Dan Riedel and Mick Lawrence will say adios to their hair. The Wranglers had already raised close to $1,000 for the St. Baldrick's Foundation.
Wrangler wrecker: Aces forward Colin Hemingway seems to always shine against Las Vegas. Hemingway leads Alaska with four goals and nine assists in eight games against the Wranglers.
Alaskan invasion: A surprisingly large number of Aces fans filled the Orleans Arena Saturday night. Although the incessant cowbell ringing was obnoxious, I'm impressed by the dedication to travel with the team.
Final word: "I thought we weren't as good as we should have been," Gulutzan summing up Saturday night.
The Orleans Arena, a Boyd Gaming facility located just west of the Las Vegas Strip, is one of the nation’s leading mid-sized arenas, and was recently ranked No. 1 in the United States and No. 5 internationally among venues of similar size by Venues Today Magazine.
The Arena hosts more than 200 events each year, including concerts by top names like Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Van Halen, Brooks & Dunn, Black Eyed Peas, Akon and Rihanna; family favorites like The Harlem Globetrotters and Circus Spectacular; and a wide variety of sporting events, including NCAA basketball tournaments, the West Coast Conference and Western Athletic Conference Basketball Championships, mixed martial arts with Superior Cage Combat, and major motorsports events.
The arena serves as home to the Las Vegas Wranglers professional ECHL hockey team, the Las Vegas Legends professional indoor soccer team, and the Lingerie Football League’s Las Vegas Sin. Stay connected to the Orleans Arena on Facebook (www.facebook.com/orleansarena) and on Twitter (@orleansarena).
Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].