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November 22, 2014

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HOCKEY:

Rookie’s hot debut ignites Wranglers

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Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Las Vegas Sun

Las Vegas Wranglers center Dan Riedel (left) sails in to congratulate rookie defenseman Mat Robinson (center) on scoring his first professional goal against the Ontario Reign on Friday night at the Orleans Arena. Defenseman Mike Madill (right) assisted on the goal.

Wranglers win fourth in a row

Las Vegas center Chris Ferraro celebrates scoring his 20th goal of the season during the second period against the Ontario Reign at the Orleans Arena on Friday night. Launch slideshow »

Mat Robinson will never forget this Spring Break.

In his professional debut, the 21-year-old University of Alaska-Anchorage senior scored one goal and added an assist to help the Las Vegas Wranglers capture their fourth consecutive victory 5-2 over the Ontario Reign in front of 4,222 fans at the Orleans Arena Friday night.

"It was exciting to get a goal in your very first game," the 5-foot-10, 185-pound defenseman said. "I definitely wasn't expecting to."

Robinson's offensive onslaught was even more special since he grew up in Calgary rooting for the Flames – and tallying two points for an affiliate of your favorite NHL team certainly beats sitting through class in Anchorage.

After assisting Chris Ferraro's goal early in the second period to put the Wranglers up 2-1, Robinson buried a doorstep feed from Mike Madill with 13:37 remaining in the second period for the 3-1 lead.

"(Robinson) played very well tonight," Wranglers coach and general manager Glen Gulutzan said. "He's got some energy, he's got some jam and he's got some hockey smarts."

Just 15 seconds after Robinson scored, forward Hugo Carpentier fired a long wrist shot past Ontario goalie Jeff Zatkoff to hand the Wranglers a 4-1 lead in his first game back with Las Vegas after a nearly month-long stint with the AHL's Quad City Flames.

Those back-to-back goals seemed to deflate Ontario (35-26-5) and seal the Wranglers' (31-26-8) victory.

The Wranglers are now just five points being the Reign for the Pacific Division lead and in the middle of the nine teams vying for eight playoff spots.

"It was a big game for us," Carpentier said. "… I think in the playoffs we will be a really good team."

Aside from the stellar play of the rookie Robinson, Las Vegas also benefited from a full bench as Justin Taylor scored the opening goal just three minutes and 19 seconds into the first period.

The Wranglers' second period scoring flurry wiped out the first period goal by Ontario's Brad Mehalko.

Although Dale Reinhardt narrowed the Reign's deficit to 4-2 late in the third period, Kelly Czuy negated any chance of a comeback with a laser-like backhand shot to cap the 5-2 outing.

"You can see what a full lineup does," Gulutzan said. "With all the guys contributing it makes things a little easier to get done."

Stars of the game: 1. Mat Robinson (1 goal, 1 assist); 2. Hugo Carpentier (1 goal, 1 assist); 3. Justin Taylor (1 goal)

Big Fish: Goalie Glenn Fisher continued to impersonate a brick wall as he stopped 25 shots for his fourth consecutive victory. Fisher has allowed just three goals in those four games.

"He's still solid as ever," Gulutzan said about Fisher.

Roster report: Center Adam Miller headed to the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League Friday on loan from the Wranglers. Miller notched 41 points in 49 games with Las Vegas this season.

The Wranglers also activated forwards Shawn Limpright and Mick Lawrence for Friday's game. Gulutzan said he expects goalie John DeCaro to return to the lineup Saturday.

Hey Mr. DJ: Props go out to the guy who chose to play "Sweet Caroline" during the intermission to pay tribute to emergency back-up goaltender Jay White. White doubles as a Neil Diamond impersonator at the Riviera when he is not minding the net for the Wranglers.

I do have one bone to pick with the music staff. What happened to the Rev Theory intro music before the game?

Star watch: Colten Teubert, the 13th overall pick of the Los Angeles Kings in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, made his ECHL debut Friday with the Ontario Reign. The 6-foot-4, 181-ound White Rock, British Columbia native recorded 37 points and 136 penalty minutes in 60 games with the Regina Pats of the WHL this season.

Next up: The Wranglers extend their stay at the Orleans Arena Saturday night against the West Division-leading Alaska Aces (40-22-3). The first 2,000 fans receive a team player card set courtesy of Studio Blue.

The Aces won the last series 2-1 at home March 6-8.

"We feel like we can show Alaska that we are a little bit better than we were up there," Gulutzan said.

Final word: "The teachers back at school are pretty good about it. They understand the situation. I just have to finish this last semester," Robinson said about missing class to play for the Wranglers.

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

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