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April 18, 2014

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Penalty fest: Wranglers fall to Reign in physical contest

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With several penalties carrying over from final seconds of the second period, the Las Vegas penalty box became standing room only in the early stages of the third period as Adam Hughesman is called for a roughing minor on Friday night as Las Vegas hosted Ontario on Friday night.

Wranglers vs. Reign

Ontario defenseman Paul Mara reacts after taking a stick to his face as players battle for puck control during a Las Vegas two-man advantage in the third period of play on Friday night at the Orleans Arena. Launch slideshow »

Early in the third period, six Las Vegas Wranglers were crammed in the penalty box — incidentally the same number on the Wranglers' bench.

Just a few feet away, the Ontario Reign had four of their players stuck in their confined space.

It was simply one of those nights at the Orleans Arena, where the penalty-minute ledger needed its own page.

The Reign prevailed Friday in a 5-3 game where penalty minutes weren't enough to justify how physical, emotional and, quite frankly, ugly the contest was.

The two teams combined for 102 penalty minutes, including a pair of game-misconduct penalties.

"Anything that happened tonight was guys sticking up for their teammates," said Josh Lunden, who logged a Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, an assist and a fight). "Whenever that happens, it’s a positive. It brings teams together.”

Ontario entered the game leading the league in penalty minutes (33 minutes per game), and Friday's outing did nothing to change that, as the Reign were penalized for 50 minutes.

The Wranglers (3-2-0-1), who compared with the Reign (5-4-0-0) are Boy Scouts with their paltry 11 penalty minutes per game, logged a season-high 52 minutes in the penalty box.

As odd as it sounds, however, it was the one facet of the game that Las Vegas coach Ryan Mougenel was happy with.

"I liked it, and I like how we responded to the physical play," said Mougenel, who added his team didn’t play well in other areas. "It was great to see guys step up and care about each other.”

Among the fights, penalties and nuttiness, there were also plenty of goals.

The Wranglers — for the sixth consecutive game — went down early in the first period.

Colton Yellow Horn slid the puck underneath Jon Fallon's left pad 94 seconds into the game. Then Brock Sheahan put one into the net six minutes later when he took Dan DaSilva's pass and scored.

The third goal came at the 9:57 mark when Chris Huxley scored on a power play to put the Reign up 3-0.

The Reign went up 4-0 after C.J. Stretch found the net in the second period — handing the Wranglers their largest deficit of the season.

Then, as if a switch went off, the Wranglers awoke from their fog.

In a flash, the Wranglers went off for a barrage of three goals in a span of five minutes, cutting the lead to one.

Geoff Paukovich scored the Wranglers' first goal at the 12:39 mark of the second period.

Nolan Julseth-White was next. He delivered a jarring hit, skated back to the right point and drilled a goal three minutes later.

The third goal came in the 17th minute when Lunden scored.

The goals gave the Wranglers new life, entering their favorite period.

"When you’re down, you’re desperate and we’re playing that edge we need to start with," Lunden said.

The strong play continued in the third period.

The Wranglers applied plenty of pressure on goaltender Chris Carozzi, but he made plenty of great saves and caught a few lucky breaks. Carozzi finished with 27 saves.

“We had chances that were Grade-A, and he came up big for them,” Lunden said.

Then with 4:30 remaining, the Reign got an important insurance goal by Mario Lamoureux, ending the Wranglers' rally and string of one-goal games.

Three Stars:: Nolan Julseth-White, Las Vegas (1 goal, 1 assist), Eric Lampe (2 assists), Josh Luden (1 goal, 1 assist, 1 fight, 1 game-misconduct)

Up Next:: The Wranglers and Reign finish out their two-game set Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. Following that game, the Wranglers open up a three-game series against Alaska on Nov. 7.

Final Word: "(Goaltender Joe) Fallon wasn’t good. We need him to make a save.” — Wranglers coach Ryan Mougenel on how his goaltender played in the first period.

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