A night after giving their fans cause for concern in a disheartening home loss to Ontario, the Wranglers gave their fans cause for optimism Friday in a convincing wire-to-wire win over the Reign.
J.D. Watt scored to give Las Vegas a lead midway through the first period, and the Wranglers never trailed en route to a 4-1 victory in front of 4,802 at the Orleans Arena.
“We played a better team game tonight,” Wranglers coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We took a little step forward today. Our defense played a little bit better, and (goalie) Martin Houle settled in a little bit, so that was encouraging.”
Las Vegas (1-2-1) will wrap up its three-game series against Pacific Division foe Ontario (2-1-0) tonight in California.
Chris Ferraro, Mike Hamilton and Mike Madill also scored for Las Vegas, which outshot Ontario 33-16, and Peter Ferraro and Bret Tyler had two assists apiece.
Watt deflected a shot from the point by Michael Beynon past Ontario goalie John Murray 8:49 into the game to give Las Vegas a 1-0 lead.
The score stayed that way until the third, when Chris Ferraro scored a power-play goal at 8:26 to put the Wranglers up 2-0. Murray stopped a shot at close range by Peter Ferraro, but Chris Ferraro pounced on the rebound and scored.
Las Vegas finished 1-for-8 on the power play, and Ontario went 0-for-8.
Hamilton made the score 3-0 less than two minutes later when he beat Murray on a breakaway. Adam Miller set up the play off a face-off, feeding Hamilton at center ice.
After Ontario pulled its goalie late in the game, Jon Francisco scored on a shot from the right circle with 3:41 left to make the score 3-1.
With the Wranglers down two men after a slashing minor on Sean Owens, Madill scored a short-handed, empty-net goal from deep in Las Vegas’ end to put the Wranglers up 4-1 with 2:26 remaining.
The Reign later enjoyed a 6-on-3 advantage for close to a minute but didn’t score.
The teams combined for 29 penalties for 86 minutes. Hamilton duked it out with David Walker late in the second period, and Las Vegas left wing Tim Spencer and Reign right wing Ryan Bowness dropped the gloves with 17 seconds left.
Wranglers defenseman Gerard Miller also incurred a match penalty for an attempt at a deliberate injury when he dropped unsuspecting Ontario center Dusty Collins with a punch to the head midway through the third period.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.LAS VEGAS — 4 ONTARIO — 1
KEY: J.D. Watt scored to give the Wranglers a 1-0 lead, and they never trailed.
NEXT: Wranglers at Reign, 7:05 p.m. today