A five-game road trip that began miserably for the Alaska Aces ended magically.
The Aces on Saturday night used Nick Mazzolini's second straight two-goal game and Tommy Mele's second two-goal game of the season to beat the Las Vegas Wranglers, 6-4, and sweep the three-game ECHL hockey series.
Alaska (8-4-0) opened its five-game roadie by getting smacked twice by the Stockton Thunder -- 7-4 and 5-1-- but turned things around at Orleans Arena in Sin City.
In a rematch of last spring's Western Conference Finals, in which Las Vegas eliminated Alaska in five games, the Aces racked three wins in four nights. Backstopped by goaltender Mark Guggenberger, they delivered a 1-0 victory Wednesday and a 2-1 win Friday.
Saturday, Guggenberger made 28 saves and the Aces blew open the game late in the second period with three goals in a span of 3 minutes, 23 seconds to seize a 5-2 lead.
Alaska also received goals from rookie defenseman William Wrenn, who moved into a tie with NHLers Brandon Dubinsky and Joey Crabb for the team lead in power-play goals with three, and NHLer Nate Thompson.
Thompson's short-handed strike off a Crabb helper in the waning seconds of the first period forged a 1-1 tie and marked Thompson's first ECHL goal.
With the game tied 2-2 late in the second period, Wrenn scored on the power play, and Mele and Mazzolini followed with even-strength strikes that gave the Aces a 5-2 cushion.
Mele's goal eight minutes into the third period pushed the gap to 6-2, and although Las Vegas received late goals from sniper Eric Lampe and Jamie Fritsch, the Wranglers lost their fifth consecutive game.
About all the Wranglers (3-6-1) accomplished Saturday was an end to their power-play misery. They scored twice with the man advantage, tying their season output on the power play entering the game. They came into the evening with just two power-play goals on 44 opportunities.
Las Vegas goalie Joe Fallon stopped 34 shots.
Shuffling the deck
Aces winger Gary Nunn furnished two assists on his 23rd birthday.
Aces rookie forward Jarred Smith notched two assists for his first two points as a pro. Crabb also delivered two assists.
Aces defenseman Russ Sinkewich went plus-2 to improve his team-best, plus-minus rating to plus-8.
Alaska improved to 4-3-0 on the road.
The Aces and Trenton are the only teams on the 23-team circuit that have yet to play overtime this season.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
Aces 1 3 2 -- 6
Las Vegas 1 1 2 -- 4
First Period -- 1, Las Vegas, Campbell (Lunden, Cook), 11:33 (pp); 2, Aces, Thompson 1 (Crabb), 19:45 (sh). Penalties -- Huxley, Las Vegas (boarding), 1:22; Dubinsky, Aces (slashing), 1:22; Wiles, Las Vegas (boarding), 4:53; Mele, Aces (roughing), 11:24; Paukovich, Las Vegas (roughing), 16:04; Lafranchise, Aces (interference), 19:08.
Second Period -- 3, Aces, Mazzolini 6 (Nunn), 3:25; 4, Las Vegas, Sarauer 1 (Campbell), 5:20; 5, Aces, Wrenn 4 (Nunn, Dubinsky), 16:13 (pp); 6, Aces, Mele 4 (Smith), 16:57; 7, Aces, Mazzolini 7 (Lafranchise, Crabb), 19:36; . Penalties -- Harrison, Aces (high-sticking), 10:22; Stamler, Las Vegas (tripping), 13:02; Lunden,Las Vegas (hooking), 15:00.
Third Period -- 8, Aces, Mele 5 (Smith, Haltigin), 8:19; 9, Las Vegas, Lampe 4 (Julseth-White, Sarauer), 14:55 (pp); 10, Las Vegas, Fritsch 1 (Hughesman, Sarauer), 19:00. Penalties -- Sinkewich, Aces (boarding), 2:01; Paukovich, Las Vegas (slashing), 5:09; Boe, Las Vegas, major-game misconduct (fighting), 8:30; Crabb, Aces, major-game misconduct (fighting), 8:30; Huxley, Las Vegas, double-minor-misconduct-game misconduct (roughing), 8:30; Curry, Aces (roughing), 8:30; Stamler, Las Vegas, major (fighting), 8:30; Harrison, Aces, major (fighting), 8:30; Julseth-White, Las Vegas (high-sticking), 9:45; Smith, Aces (slashing), 13:31; Lafranchise, Aces (tripping), 15:04.
Shots on goal -- Aces 17-12-11--40. Las Vegas 10-14-8--32.
Power-play Opportunities -- Aces 1 of 7. Las Vegas 2 of 6.
Goalies -- Aces, Guggenberger, 7-3-0 (32 shots-28 saves). Las Vegas, Fallon, 3-4-1 (40-34).
A -- 5,110 (7,773). T -- 2:32.
Referee -- Joe Sullivan. Linesmen -- Zach Thornton, Wally Lacroix.
Woody on Hockey
By DOYLE WOODY