The Idaho Steelheads came out on the short end of both games against the Las Vegas Wranglers this past weekend at the Orleans Arena in Sin City.
Game one on Saturday evening saw the Wranglers jump out to a 3-0 lead before Idaho ended the shutout in the Wranglers 4-1 victory. Las Vegas got first period goals from forwards Blair Riley and Geoff Paukovich in an evenly played period that saw Wranglers goalie Michael Ouzas turn aside all 11 Steelheads shots and Idaho netminder Jase Weslosky turn aside 10 of the 12 shots he faced.
The second period was again an evenly played period with both teams managing 11 shots on goal. The only tally of the period was a power play goal by Wranglers forward Jamie Bates at 18:12 to give Las Vegas the 3-0 advantage going to the third period.
Idaho finally solved Ouzas early in the third as Steelheads forward John-Scott Dickson scored his sixth goal of the season at 1:12 of the period. Dickson’s goal was all that Idaho could muster however and Las Vegas put the game away with their final goal as forward Greg Collins notched his fourth goal of the season at 14:39 to close out the scoring and make the final 4-1.
The two teams played again on a rare Sunday evening game with the home team Wranglers finding the back of net a half dozen times in the 6-3 victory.
The game started out better for Idaho than the previous evening as newly acquired veteran forward Junior Lessard beat Ouzas just 1:12 into the game. Idaho’s lead was short lived however as just 3:01 after the Lessard goal Wranglers defenseman Jamie Fritsch scored the first of Las Vegas’ three goals in the first period. Collins scored his fifth of the season at 7:12 and Ryan Huddy, son of former Edmonton Oilers great Charlie Huddy, scored his tenth goal of the season to give the Wranglers a 3-1 lead after one period.
The penalty filled second period saw a goal apiece as well as a combined 33 penalty minutes from the two teams. Bates scored early for the Wranglers to give his team a 4-1 lead and Idaho answered back as Lessard struck for his second of the game and third of the season at 14:10 to cut the lead to 4-2 after two periods.
Idaho cut the lead to a single goal just 2:07 into the third as Steelhead forward Mark Derlago scored on a penalty shot. The 4-3 score remained until the 12:47 mark when Collins scored his third goal in the two games and his sixth of the season. Idaho pulled Weslosky, who had replaced starter Mike Zacharias midway through the third period, for an extra forward however Wranglers forward Blake Gallagher found the back of the empty net to put the game away at 19:25 and make the final score 6-3.
The game kept Las Vegas (15-6-1-1) in first place in the Pacific Division and four points ahead of the Stockton Thunder (12-8-1-3). Idaho (12-9-2-4) dropped to third place in the Mountain Division but just two points behind the division leading Utah Grizzlies (14-8-3-1). The Steelheads remain on the road with a chance to regain first place as they play the Grizzlies at the E Center Tuesday and Wednesday this week before breaking for the Christmas Holiday.