Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 | 10:51 p.m.
The Las Vegas Wranglers weren't going to be outscored Friday night.
Propelled by four straight goals that opened the game, the Wranglers quieted the Utah Grizzlies' biggest crowd of the season with an 8-5 victory at the E-Center in West Valley Center, Utah.
"We were very prepared," head coach Ryan Mougenel said. "I think the guys are starting to understand how they have to play to have success."
Three Wranglers each scored a pair of goals in the victory, the team's first win in Utah in five tries this season.
Jeff Hazelwood opened the scoring with his sixth goal of the season just 2:34 into the game. The goal was assisted by captain Chris Neiszner, who recorded three assists on the night.
Hazelwood scored again in the second period to give the Wranglers (18-20-3-1, 40 points) a 5-1 lead.
"Jeff was arguably the best player on the ice for us tonight," Mougenel said. "It was nice to see him get rewarded."
Forwards Mick Lawrence and Andrew Orpik each added two goals for the Wranglers.
After the explosive first period, Las Vegas let Utah back in the game by allowing three goals in the middle frame.
"I thought they dictated the play in the second period," Mougenel said. "We weren't very sharp."
Consecutive goals by Ryan Kinasewich, Peter Aston and Tim Crowder closed the Grizzlies deficit to one goal late in the second period, but Orpik responded with less than a minute left in the period to give goaltender Michael Ouzas some breathing room.
"It was a good cushion, but we let up a bit and let them back into the game," Ouzas said.
Ouzas stopped 50 of 55 Utah shots, the most the Wranglers have given up this year.
"My goal is to give the team a chance to win, so I just had to keep my focus out there," he said.
The 55 shots also were the most totaled by Utah this season. Las Vegas had 37 shots in the game.
"They had us on our heels, scored some big goals and had us running around," Mougenel said. "But, nonetheless, it's a win and two points, so I'll take it."
Overall, 10 Wranglers skaters recorded points in the win, the most this season.
"It was nice to see the scoring spread out," Mougenel said.
Adam Miller and Josh Prudden each scored goals, and Prudden added two assists.
The victory came in front of 10,020 fans at the E-Center, the highest attendance this season for the Grizzlies.
Las Vegas takes on Utah twice more, Saturday and Monday, before heading home to face the Idaho Steelheads on Thursday.
"It's the same old cliché," Ouzas said, "But we need a playoff spot, and every win down the stretch counts."