ECHL hockey: Las Vegas tops Utah Grizzlies

ECHL • Hapless Utah falls behind early to cruising Las Vegas.
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West Valley City • Utah and Las Vegas were two teams headed in different directions.

The Wranglers entered Wednesday's ECHL matchup against Utah on a seven-game winning streak, having outscored their opponents by a 29-14 margin.

Meanwhile, the foundering Grizzlies, short-handed by injury, entered the Maverik Center having lost five of seven, including two shootout defeats.

As it turned out, both teams stayed on course as Las Vegas (26-19-2-3) skated to a 5-2 victory that had a fuming Utah coach Kevin Colley grasping for answers.

"I could accept coming up short if they worked hard," he said. "It's not about me, it's about if guys want to play hockey. Our leadership is a big key right now. The guys don't bring anything to the table. That's harsh, I know, but I've played the game, I know what it takes, and these guys are delusional if they think they're playing hard."

Las Vegas center Judd Blackwater scored a pair of goals, including his team's vital fourth, to keep the Wranglers' winning streak intact.

The Wranglers capped their effort with an empty-net goal with less than a minute to play.

Colley believes the Grizzlies can be competitive, but not with the effort they're giving.

"It's not even fun to be around," he said. "Guys are very immature and selfish. There are so many bad things wrong with our team right now you could write a book."

Las Vegas jumped to a 3-1 lead midway through the second period.

The Wranglers jumped in front late in the first 20 minutes after right wing Sean Wiles took advantage of a loose puck in front of the Grizzly goal.

Two minutes into the second period, Las Vegas scored again. It was the ninth straight goal Utah had allowed without an answer.

The Grizzlies finally answered less than two minutes later when Nick Tuzzolino blasted the puck by Wranglers' goalkeeper Jody O'Neil from about 30 feet during a 3-on-1 break. Both sides traded goals again, with Las Vegas taking a 3-2 advantage into the final period.

Twitter:@tribmarty —

Wranglers 5, Grizzlies 2

O Las Vegas tops Utah for its eighth straight win.

• Nick Tuzzolino scores the Grizzlies' first goal, in the second period.

• The Wranglers' final goal came with less than a minute left.