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November 22, 2014

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Wranglers, frustrated by lack of early production, lose to Solar Bears in shootout

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STEPHEN SYLVANIE / SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Orlando goaltender John Curry makes a shootout save against Las Vegas forward Andrew Sarauer after the teams skated to a 1-1 tie through an overtime period on Friday night.

Wranglers vs. Solar Bears (11/30/12)

Solar Bears forward Rob Mignardi deflects a Judd Blackwater shot away from the net before it reaches goaltender John Curry as Las Vegas hosted Orlando for the first time in franchise history on Friday night. Launch slideshow »

It's beyond frustrating for Las Vegas Wranglers coach Ryan Mougenel to keep seeing his team fall behind in games.

The Wranglers have surrendered the first goal in 13 of their 16 games, and while it didn't hurt them too bad Friday, Mougenel is getting awfully weary of relaying the same message.

"It's been addressed by me. It's been addressed by the leaders in the room," said Mougenel after his team's 2-1 shootout defeat to the Orlando Solar Bears. "It's the same guys saying the same things that are making the same mistakes."

It's not like the Wranglers aren't capable of scoring goals. On Thursday, they put up six goals and got progressively stronger as the game drew on.

But it's those opening 20-plus minutes that continue to be a bugaboo for Las Vegas (6-7-0-3).

"For some reason, we can't get that first one, and over time it's going to bite us," said Andrew Sarauer, who scored the Wranglers' lone goal of the game. "We're trying a few different things."

Don't get him wrong, Mougenel is taking some of the blame for the team's inability to get ahead early in games, but he's also tired of doing so. He hinted at the potential of making roster moves in hopes of waking up a team that is seemingly sleepwalking through early moments of games.

"I've been committed to our players for a lot of years when I haven't made a lot of roster movement," Mougenel said. "It's unacceptable. It can't be tolerated for much longer. There are guys who aren't doing their job."

It wasn't all fire and brimstone against the Solar Bears, however.

Other than the slow start, Mougenel was pleased with how his team dictated the tempo of the game. He was also satisfied that his team picked up five points in their past six contests, and is continuing to make strides even despite the slow starts.

"We're getting there," Mougenel said.

But even with the positive spin, it doesn't eliminate the sting of losing another game.

After a scoreless first period, the Solar Bears (9-9-2-1) got a goal when C.J. Severyn scored from the slot to put Orlando up.

Las Vegas evened the score at the 9:20 mark on a 4-on-4 play, after Sarauer collected Jamie Fritsch's shot for a goal.

"The rebound was there for me. I got it on net and it went in," Sarauer said.

Other than those two moments, it was essentially a showcase in goaltending.

Despite giving up a goal at 19 seconds into the second period, Wranglers goalie Joe Fallon was solid between the pipes. He made 26 saves in the losing effort.

"Joe was real good tonight," Mougenel said. "He was the old Joe I remember. He was good, but that's what we need from him to win."

His counterpart John Curry was just as good. Curry, a former Wrangler and Pittsburgh Penguin, made 27 saves for his team.

After 65 minutes of deadlocked hockey, the teams went into the shootout where Curry was just a step better than Fallon.

Curry made three saves, while Fallon made one, as the Solar Bears picked up the victory after four shooters.

Three Stars: 1. John Curry, Orlando (27 saves), 2. Joe Fallon, Las Vegas (26 saves), 3. Andrew Sarauer (1 goal).

Up Next: The Wranglers wrap up a three-game homestand with another game against the Solar Bears. Puck is scheduled to drop at 7:05 p.m., and the annual teddy bear toss will take place. After two days off, Las Vegas will play four games in a five-day stretch.

Final Word: "My wife definitely is (looking forward to me shaving this mustache), and so is my baby girl." — Las Vegas Wranglers coach Ryan Mougenel on finally being able to shave. Members of the Las Vegas Wranglers, including Mougenel, grew mustaches for Movember, a monthlong event raising awareness for prostate cancer.

Paul Delos Santos can be reached at 990-2416 or [email protected]. Follow Paul on Twitter at twitter.com/pauliedelos.

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