It took the Wranglers better than half the game to show how desperate they were. But once that desperation kicked in Friday night, they also showed how good they can be.
Without two of their top scorers and with a 25-save performance by goalie Glenn Fisher, the Wranglers gained a critical 5-3 win over the Alaska Aces to snap a three-game skid in front of 5,497 fans at the Orleans Arena.
With four games left in the regular season, the Wranglers remain in second place in the ECHL Pacific Division with 72 points. The top three teams in the division advance to the Kelly Cup playoffs.
"We needed this one," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "This is the first time all year we've come back from two goals down, and our young guys really responded."
Before the game, the Wranglers learned veteran right wing Peter Ferraro had been suspended by the league for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs. He speared Alaska's Matt Stefanishion, then kicked him during a second-period brawl in a 5-3 loss to the Aces on Tuesday.
In the same melee, Ferraro's brother, Chris, broke his left leg. He had surgery Wednesday and is out for the season. No disciplinary action was taken against him, and the ECHL also rescinded a match penalty originally assessed to Tim Spencer, who was ejected for kicking an Alaska player.
There was no repeat of the hostilities Friday, with the teams combining for 12 minor penalties until a fight between the Wranglers' Tim Spencer and Alaska's Robin Richards in the game's final seconds.
Despite being without the Ferraros, who had combined for 37 goals and 76 points, the Wranglers showed some offensive punch midway through the second period.
After spending most of the first period and a half killing penalties, Las Vegas erased a 2-0 deficit with goals by Dan Riedel, Mick Lawrence and Scott McCulloch.
It was the third goal in two games for McCulloch, a rookie forward from Colorado College who joined the Wranglers this week.
"I've been trying to bring energy to the team," he said.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.