One of the new rivalries the media has been looking forward to is between Ontario and San Diego. The story line starts with the parent NHL teams (even though if you ask the fans, the bigger rivalry is with San Jose for both teams) and is projected to grow at the AHL level. This rivalry unofficially started during the pre-season series (swept by San Diego) and saw its first regular season game last night.
The Ontario Reign fan base has always been a mix of NHL fans. At any game, you will find about 60% Kings fans, 20% Ducks fans, 10% Sharks fans & 10% other. Last night’s game saw the Ducks fans and some of their friends show up to support the Gulls (Traitors!). The Reign shut down both San Diego and their supporters.
The Reign outplayed & out shot the Gulls for most of the first period. Michael Mersch opened up the scoring in the first off of a great passing sequence between the starting line-up, putting the Reign up 1-0. The Gulls managed to put together a push towards the end of the period, but couldn’t get anything on the scoreboard.
1:30 into the second, with the Gulls on an early penalty kill, Adrian Kempe scored what would be his first goal of the night. 9 minutes later, he had scored again and the Gulls were down 3-0. Brian McGratten put the Gulls on the board within two minutes of Kempe’s second goal, but Kempe wasn’t done yet. Seven seconds into another Reign power play, Kempe completed his hat trick to put the Reign up 4-1.
The third period saw the hostilities break out, starting with a fight between McGratten and the newly returned Paul Bissonnette. It culminated in a multi-player brawl at the San Diego bench 12 minutes in. No one else was able to score, however, and the Reign took the game 4-1.
Impressive – This isn’t even a debate. Adrian Kempe was on fire last night. The home fans finally got to see what the scouts & development staff are so excited about. With Kempe finally finding his scoring on the second line and the dual threat of Merch & Zykov on the first line, the Reign are set to give their opponents fits trying to shut them down.
Quiet – After scoring the Reign’s first AHL goal, Vincent LoVerde hasn’t been making to many headlines. However, he is one of those players that shows up everywhere. Quietly going about his business. LoVerde had two assists in the game, anchors the first power play unit & leads the penalty killers. In last week’s overtime loss to San Antonio, we’re not sure he left the ice in the last five minutes of regulation.
Elsewhere in the Division – Nothing happened.