ONTARIO, CA – It was a completely different Reign squad that showed up to the second of the back to back games against the Roadrunners on Sunday. While we can only guess at what was said after Saturday’s loss, it motivated the Reign to completely dominate the Roadrunners from start to finish.
Ontario began the game with a lesson in puck possession. Over the first ten minutes, the Reign out shot the Roadrunners 16-1. It was the awkward shot from Kurtis MacDermid while falling that finally jumped past Adin Hill to put Ontario up 1-0. Five minutes later, Jonny Brodzinski notched his 23rd of the season. By the end of the first, the Reign had sent 23 shots at Hill, Jack Campbell had probably taken a nice nap between stopping six shots and the Roadrunners were lucky to escape the period down only 2-0.
Early in the second, Michael Mersch grabbed a puck that had bounced past Tucson’s point men and took it up ice for the breakaway goal. This is perhaps what sealed it for Hill as his performance began to slip. Tucson had figured out how to get the puck back from the Reign and managed to out shoot them 11-10, but Jonny Brodzinski victimized Hill for another Reign goal to give Ontario the 4-0 lead.
In the third period, the Roadrunners were showing all of the signs of a three-games-in-three-days schedule and the Reign had scaled back their assault. Patrick Bjorkstrand joined the scoring brigade again midway through the period for Ontario’s fifth goal and his second in two games. Two minutes later, a bad boarding by Andrew Crescenzi caused mounting tensions to erupt. Out of the melee came 40 minutes of penalties in addition to the two Crescenzi had already picked up. No more scoring was done and Tucson seemed relieved to just end the game and head home.
Impressive: Despite doing not much through most of the first period, Jack Campbell was able to keep his focus and didn’t let anything slip through him, picking up his third shut out of the season. Jonny Brodzinski was right back in the mix with his two goals and one assist. He now has 45 points (24 G + 21A) in 54 games. Last year he had 28 points (15G + 13A) in 65 games. Michael Mersch has been a force on the ice since his return from injury. Yesterday he was rewarded with a highlight reel goal and assist of his own.
Not So Much: It is hard to find fault with the Reign’s complete domination of the Roadrunners. On Tucson’s end of the ice, they allowed 41 shots on goal after giving up 54 the night before. Many times they left Hill out to dry, who in turn stopped making that one save they might have needed to get back in the game. The third game in 3 days might be a factor, but they were facing a team who had the same schedule with a longer bus ride back from the first game.
Elsewhere in the Division: The meeting of the division leads became a game decided by two players. Troy Grosenick stopped all 25 of the shots sent his way while Kevin Boyle only stopped 23 of his 25 shots. The empty net goal sealed the 3-0 win for the Barracuda, further cementing their position in first place. Stockton and Grand Rapids took their game to the shootout, where the Heat eventually won 5-4. The win inches them closer to the Bakersfield Condors and the final playoff spot. The San Antonio Rampage held on to win 4-3 over the Cleveland Monsters. The Texas Stars and Bakersfield Condors got the night off.