Las Vegas Sun

August 18, 2022

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Wranglers fall in overtime

Las Vegas loses fifth straight against Utah

Expanded hockey coverage

Another game against the Utah Grizzlies -- another loss for the Las Vegas Wranglers.

Despite forcing overtime for the first time this season, the Wranglers were still unable to topple their arch nemesis as the Grizzlies pulled out a 3-2 victory in front of 2,280 fans at the E-Center on Sunday.

Utah (11-4) has now won five consecutive games against Las Vegas and is 8-1 facing the Wranglers this season.

The Wranglers (6-10-1) will face a new opponent this weekend for the first time in two weeks as they travel to Bakersfield (12-6) Friday night.

"I was just talking to Utah's coach and we were saying that we are both sick of seeing the same players," said Wranglers head coach and general manager Ryan Mougenel. "It's not an ideal schedule, but that's the lay of the land. We are going to build from it and keep being positive … We had the opportunity to win (Sunday) and we just couldn't get it done, but we will find a way. That's what the week of practice is for before we play in Bakersfield."

The Wranglers started out strong Sunday as Ned Lukacevic scored on the first power play of the game just 5:25 into the contest to give Las Vegas a 1-0 lead.

Las Vegas outshot Utah 8-4 in that first period.

But the Grizzlies stormed back in the second period via stellar special teams play.

First, Tim Maxwell notched a power play goal 5:35 into the period to tie the game 1-1. Then, newly acquired rookie Brett Parnham buried a shorthanded goal off an odd-man breakaway less than four minutes later to put the Grizzlies on top 2-1.

The Wranglers weren't finished yet, though, as Mike Madill tallied his first goal of the season with a power play shot from the blue line to knot the contest 2-2 with 4:48 in the second period.

"I love how the guys responded there," Mougenel said. "You get a power play goal with a real simple screen and a shot from the point. We are a team that just needs to simplify things and play inside edge hockey."

Following a scoreless third period, the 20-year-old Parnham struck again just 43 seconds into overtime for the unassisted game-winning goal.

"(Parnham's) a hard worker and a gifted hockey player," Grizzlies head coach Kevin Colley said on Fox Sports Radio 1320 KFAN after the game. "Las Vegas came out hard. We said it all along that they are well-coached, but we just came out on top tonight and got the big break we needed for the two points."

The Grizzlies outshot the Wranglers 27-25 as Mitch O'Keefe improved to 7-1 and Michael Ouzas fell to 6-8-1.

Stars of the game: 1. Brett Parnham (2 goals); 2. Vic Bartley; 3. Mitch O'Keefe (23 saves)

Series breakdown: In addition to winning eight of their nine meetings this season, the Grizzlies dominated nearly every statistical category against the Wranglers. Utah outscored Las Vegas 38-20 while outshooting them 294-231.

The Grizzlies' power play unit went 17-for-51 (.333) while the Wranglers' special teams were just 6-for-41 (.146) in those nine games.

Going streaking: Adam Miller's assist in the second period was his sixth point in seven games. He now has five goals and seven assists this season.

Next up: The Wranglers hit the road after Thanksgiving for two games in Bakersfield at Rabobank Arena Friday and Saturday at 7:05 p.m.

Final word: "I think the effort was there and that's a good response after struggling the past few games," Mougenel said. "Adversity builds character and I'm proud of how the guys responded. We have to find a way to win those games, but we've turned the corner and it's going to be a good week of practice."

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

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