Last season, the Wranglers avoided long losing streaks, dropping as many as four games in a row only once – to Florida in the ECHL Kelly Cup Finals.
Nine games into this season, Las Vegas has equaled that skid, suffering its fourth straight loss Friday night in a 2-1 setback to Alaska in front of 4,344 at Orleans Arena.
“We played a team with a couple of NHLers out there tonight, and we let them do whatever they want. That’s disappointing. What a great way to measure yourself against those guys,” Wranglers coach Ryan Mougenel said. “I don’t care where they’re from. My guys have got to compete and play the right way to win.
“They could’ve been a team from the (Southern Professional Hockey League) and beat us tonight.”
The Aces feature four NHL players on their roster – Nate Thompson, Brandon Dubinsky, Joey Crabb and Scott Gomez, who is on the reserve list – but none of them scored Friday.
Nick Mazzolini netted both goals for Alaska (7-4-0), scoring the winner on a deflection with 3:03 left in the second period.
Mazzolini beat Joe Fallon (35 saves) on the power play at 8:56 of the first as the Wranglers (3-5-1) fell behind 1-0 for the ninth straight time to start the season.
“It comes down to the guys in that locker room. Mouge can only come in and say so much before it becomes ‘Groundhog Day,’ ” Las Vegas center Scott Campbell said. “It’s the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. Right now, that’s kind of what we’re doing, and it’s not working.
“We need to get our act together and figure it out.”
The Wranglers avoided their third straight shutout loss when Eric Lampe scored nine minutes into the second period, ending a scoreless skid of nearly three hours (172:10).
Lampe’s third goal of the season barely trickled through the legs of goalie Mark Guggenberger (29 saves) across the goal line.
“I don’t know if that went in,” Mougenel said. “The goal judge was sleeping because we hadn’t scored in nine periods.”
While the NHL lockout has helped the Aces, it has hurt the chances of several Las Vegas players who expected to be in the American Hockey League this season and still might be upset about it, Mougenel said.
“I think we’re feeling sorry for ourselves, and I don’t really understand why because we’re all here, me included,” Mougenel said. “Either get over it and embrace it or be thankful you have a job.
“I still believe in how we play, but four in a row – that’s tough to swallow. It’s my job to win here in Las Vegas. Our NHL is here, and it’s real important to us. We have a certain standard, and it’s not being met.”
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0354.ALASKA — 2
LAS VEGAS — 1
KEY: Nick Mazzolini scored both goals for the Aces, netting the winner with 3:03 left in the second period.
NEXT: Aces at Wranglers, 7:05 p.m. today, KVMY (12)