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October 23, 2017

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Offensive woes plague Wranglers in 2-0 loss


Wrangler attacker Eric Lampe (7) attempts to deflect a shot past Ontario goaltender Chris Carozzi during the first period of play on Wednesday night.

Wranglers vs. Reign

Las Vegas goaltender Joe Fallon looks over his shoulder as a puck gets behind him and bounces precariously across the crease during the third period of play on Wednesday night. Launch slideshow »

Eric Lampe looked up at the ceiling after endlessly jabbing at the puck during one stretch in the third period. Sean Wiles had a breakaway opportunity a few moments later, but his shot couldn't find the net.

Those moments were simply a microcosm of the offensive frustration the Las Vegas Wranglers experienced. They took 25 shots and none got by Ontario Reign goalie Chris Carrozzi, who helped his team to a 2-0 victory Wednesday at the Orleans Arena.

"I saw pretty much every puck," Carrozzi said. "We got a couple lucky breaks. That's how hockey is. Tonight we worked hard and got that win, but we got lucky breaks."

Carrozzi made 10 of his saves in the third period, including one dramatic sequence when Lampe was in front of the net and had a chance to score. Lampe poked and prodded in an attempt to find the puck, but Carrozzi was able to cover it up before Lampe could get a solid strike on the puck.

"He missed me a couple of times. He missed it," Carrozzi said. "That was a lucky break."

Moments later, while the Wranglers were on the penalty kill, Wiles stole the puck and had a breakaway opportunity. But Wiles didn't get a clean shot off, allowing Carrozzi to make the save, which caught him by surprise.

"It's harder (to make a save) when the player doesn't know what he's doing," Carrozzi said. "If you know what he's doing, you could read him. I didn't know what the hell he was doing."

It was a nice bounce-back effort for the Western Conference leaders after falling 3-2 on Tuesday afternoon during the Indoor Winter Classic.

"We struggled a little bit last night," Ontario coach Jason Christie said. "We were a couple steps behind. Carrozzi played well, and it was good for him to get the win."

On the flip side, Las Vegas coach Ryan Mougenel called it a frustrating loss, given the team's recent run of success that helped it get back to .500.

The power play, ranked 22nd in the league, was ineffective, leading the Wranglers to their ninth loss at home.

"It's disappointing to be shut out at home," Mougenel said. "Our power play was dismal. There was no jam. There was no work ethic.

"We're still finding our way, which is at times frustrating."

Joe Fallon, despite losing, was solid between the pipes for the Wranglers (14-14-1-3). He stopped 20 shots, and made a handful of great saves to keep Las Vegas in the game.

The defense in front of him was solid as well, limiting the Reign to 22 shots (five in the first period). Mougenel isn't concerned about his defense or his penalty kill for that matter. The Wranglers and the Reign have the same goals-against average. The biggest difference: Ontario averages four goals a game, while Las Vegas averages two.

"It falls on our forwards," Mougenel said of his team's offensive woes. "My best players have to be my best players. That's what they're here to do."

Brodie Sheahan scored the lone meaningful goal (the final goal by Colton Yellow Horn was an empty netter) on the power play at the 13:33 mark.

Sheahan fired a low shot to Fallon's stick side. The shot was hard enough that the puck bounced out of the net, but the referee saw it cross the line and signaled the goal.

Mougenel had warned his team about the goal before the puck dropped, but in general was once again satisfied with his penalty kill unit.

"It was something we talked about and showed on video before the game on the PK," Mougenel said. "Our PK has been great. It's been one of the best."

Three Stars: 1. Chris Carrozzi, Ontario (25 saves), 2. Joe Fallon, Las Vegas (20 saves), 3. Brodie Sheahan, Ontario (1 goal)

Up Next: The Wranglers begin a two-game set against the Utah Grizzlies 7 p.m. Saturday. Las Vegas will play the Grizzlies on Sunday as well, before traveling up to Salt Lake City for another two-game series Jan. 11-12.

Final Word: "We've got to get grittier and dirtier when we defend. We're one of the least penalized teams, and we built this team based on that." — Las Vegas coach Ryan Mougenel on his team's need to play more physical on defense.

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

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