Wranglers hope ‘dip in the road’ doesn’t expand

The adage “the harder you work, the luckier you get,” rang true in the Wranglers’ last three games. Unfortunately for Las Vegas, that saying applied only to its opponent, the Fresno Falcons, who outworked the Wranglers en route to three straight overtime wins.

After starting this season with a 20-2-3 record, the Wranglers (22-5-7) have won only two of their past nine games (2-3-4).

“We’ve definitely hit a little dip in the road,” Las Vegas assistant coach Brent Bilodeau said. “I don’t think the effort and the will to win was there (against Fresno). We weren’t on the same page.”

Center Chris Ferraro, second on the squad in scoring with 29 points, said the team’s recent slide is “a blessing in disguise.”

“It’s always good to face adversity … because it humbles you and reminds you that even though you’ve had success, it doesn’t mean that’s going to happen every night,” he said.

Things won’t get any easier for Pacific Division-leading Las Vegas tonight, when it hosts the West Division-leading Victoria Salmon Kings (21-8-4) at 7:05 p.m. at the Orleans Arena. The teams also will play at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in the Wranglers’ last game before Wednesday’s ECHL All-Star Game in Stockton, Calif.

“We have a good opportunity this weekend to start to turn it around,” said Las Vegas right wing Brandon Kaleniecki, who scored the team’s lone goal on Tuesday and is tied for second in the league with four game-winning goals. “I thought we played a little bit better than we have been in the last game, and hopefully we can take another step in the right direction (tonight).”

The Wranglers split two 4-3 games at Victoria this season.

* ROSTER UPDATE — Several Wranglers remain in the American Hockey League, with All-Star defenseman Tyson Strachan with Peoria, left wing Ryan Donally and defenseman Gerry Burke with Quad City and center Curtis Fraser with San Antonio.

Defenseman Aaron Power has missed the last three games with an undisclosed injury, and forwards Bruce Mulherin and Marco Peluso remain on injured reserve with lower-body injuries. Peluso recently started skating and could rejoin the team within two weeks, and Mulherin is expected to be out until February.

Defenseman Mike McBain and center Justin Donati are on injured reserve, and neither is expected to return this season.

* POWERLESS PLAY — Las Vegas has scored only four goals in its last 48 chances on the power play, and Bilodeau said “that goes hand in hand with the effort we put in.”

* WRANGLERS ON DEMAND — Cox Digital Cable subscribers can watch one Wranglers home game each month and a 30-minute “Wranglers Roundup” show for free on On Demand Cox Channel 1.

Those interested should go to Channel 1 and select Free Zone, About My City, Sports and Wranglers.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@ reviewjournal.com or 383-0354.

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