Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2019

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Wranglers’ home ice woes continue against Utah

Wranglers vs. Utah

Stephen R. Sylvanie / Special to the Sun

Las Vegas Wranglers goaltender Michael Ouzas and defenseman John Schwarz lay on the ice as Utah Grizzlies players celebrate scoring a second period goal in Utah’s 3-2 victory Tuesday night at the Orleans Arena.

Utah continues reign in Las Vegas

Utah forward James Sixsmith rips a slapshot between Josh Prudden, right, and Andrew Orpik during the second period at the Orleans Arena on Tuesday night. Launch slideshow »

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The Utah Grizzlies have truly made themselves right at home at the Orleans Arena.

Utah snagged its third consecutive victory in Las Vegas on Tuesday night by edging the Wranglers 3-2 in front of 2,943 fans.

The Grizzlies are now 5-0 on the road with two more games at the Orleans Arena this week before heading back to the E-Center for four straight meetings with the Wranglers.

"I don't know what it is, but the good things is we have six more games against them and we should get them figured out," said Wranglers defenseman Craig Switzer. "We just aren't getting the bounces. The past games they have been getting the bounces. Eventually some have to go our way."

Unfortunately for the Wranglers, the puck bounced the Grizzlies' way again to start Tuesday's game as A.J. Perry squeezed a loose rebound past Michael Ouzas for a 1-0 lead with 6:49 remaining in the first period.

The Wranglers answered in the second period when Andrew Orpik tallied his fourth goal of the season off of a feed from Adam Miller and Matt Watkins at the 13:35 mark.

Less than three minutes later, Utah regained the lead thanks to a goal by Jason Dale at 16:06 of the second period.

The Grizzlies then took control of the game early in the third period when defenseman Tim Maxwell launched a shot from the point at 5:44 to extend the lead to 3-1.

Utah out-shot Las Vegas 37-29 as Ouzas drops to 5-4 with a 3.03 goals against average and a .899 save percentage.

"I thought for the most part we played decent, but giving up 40 shots is definitely not something we can do consistently, and it is something we have done consistently," said Wranglers head coach and General Manager Ryan Mougenel. "… If it's not for Michael Ouzas tonight we lose that by a lot more."

The Wranglers did ignite a comeback effort late in the third period as Switzer picked up his first goal of the season on a power play with 3:05 remaining to pull within one.

But Las Vegas could not find the tying goal as the Wranglers are now 3-5 at home.

"Some of our guys need to step up and they know who they are," Mougenel said. "I don't have to single them out. We need to get better and that's what tomorrow is for."

Stars of the game: 1. A.J. Perry (1 goal, 1 assist); 2. Adam Miller (2 assists); 3. Michael Ouzas (34 saves)

Kinasewich kept in check: Utah captain Ryan Kinasewich entered Tuesday's game leading the ECHL in goals (13) and points (20) including five goals and three assists in two previous meetings with the Wranglers.

But the top defensive pairing of Mike Madill and Craig Switzer held Kinasewich to just three shots and no points on Tuesday.

"Obviously he has been a pretty big presence out there the past few games, so Madill and I tried to keep him in front of us," Switzer said. "I guess we can be happy that we kept him off the score sheet."

Welcome to Las Vegas: Center Francis Lemieux completed a quick turnaround from the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins to suit up against the Grizzlies.

Lemieux had two shots on goal in his first game with the Wranglers and has Mougenel expecting big things in the future.

"I like him," Mougenel said. "For a guy that hasn't been on the ice in five days, I think he is going to be a much-needed addition for our offense. He is going to be real good in this league. Tonight he had to get his feet wet, but he is going to get better and better."

Hagel healing: Injured forward Kyle Hagel's return is still unknown.

Mougenel said he plans to let Hagel rest as long as the Wranglers have extra forwards on the roster. Hagel injured both of his eyes in a fight against Bakersfield's Erick Lizon last week.

Best anthem ever: The beloved Paul Villaluz returned to the Orleans Arena in his traditional tuxedo to sing the national anthem Tuesday. I have no idea where he has been the past month, but my ears thank Villaluz for coming back.

Next up: The Wranglers host the Grizzlies again on Thursday night for LasVegasWeekly.com's Thirsty Thursday $1 beer night at 7 p.m. at the Orleans Arena.

Final word: "When I try to over-complicate things, it just complicates things," Mougenel said. "So we have to get back to simplicity, and that's what I'm here for."

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

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