Las Vegas Sun

April 20, 2024

Wranglers edge Ontario, 2-1

Expanded hockey coverage

ONTARIO, Calif. -- The Las Vegas Wranglers' first road trip of the season could not have ended much better.

After edging the Ontario Reign on Friday night, the Wranglers returned to Citizens Business Bank Arena Sunday to pull out a 3-2 victory in front of 4,767 fans.

"I think our biggest goal is to play consistent hockey," said Wranglers center Chris Neiszner. "You have to start somewhere, and maybe going on the road and getting in the hotel with all the guys helped us out. I think we played two really solid games this weekend."

Both Las Vegas and Ontario struggled to muster up any offensive pressure for the first two scoreless periods.

But the fireworks started in the final period as Robbie Bina buried a feed from Ned Lukacevic on the power play just 5:02 into the third for a 1-0 lead.

Ontario answered back four minutes later, though, as David Walker notched a shorthanded goal to tie the game 1-1 at the 9:20 mark.

The Wranglers' power play went 1-for-8 on the night, but they held the Reign scoreless on six power play chances.

"Our back end was phenomenal tonight, including Michael Ouzas, who gives us an ability to win every night," said Wranglers head coach and general manager Ryan Mougenel.

Las Vegas took control of the game just 69 seconds after Walker's goal, thanks to a heads-up play by Neiszner to poke in a loose puck past Ontario goalie Mike Zacharias for the 2-1 advantage.

Neiszner's goal, his first of the season, proved to be the difference as the Wranglers improve to 4-3.

"The more I watch (Neiszner) the more I love his game," Mougenel said. "I think he is definitely somebody the American League should be well aware of. I know he can succeed at the next level. We just have to get him an opportunity there … He's a special kid and the heartbeat of this team. He's a real special player for us."

Ouzas, who made 17 saves Sunday, is now 4-0 in his last four starts and 4-1 overall.

Stars of the game: 1. Chris Neiszner (1 goal); 2. David Walker (1 goal); 3. Robbie Bina (1 goal)

Roster report: Mougenel confirmed Sunday that he expects forward Kyle Hagel and defenseman Mike Madill to return to the lineup this week. Hagel missed this weekend's slate of games with a shoulder injury and Madill is finally done rehabbing after off season knee surgery.

Next up: The Wranglers host the Bakersfield Condors on Thursday night at the Orleans Arena for's $1 beer night.

Final word: "It's four points, but I think more importantly it's the belief in when we can have success, when we do things the right way," Mougenel said. "As cheesy as it is, the guys are seeing the fruits of their labor. Even though we had a big win the other night, we spent a lot of time watching video and I thought the guys really bought in."

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

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