Well, three games actually.
After a bit of a homestand, the Ontario Reign went on a brief journey to take on the division leading (at the time) Tuscon Roadrunners in their own barn.
Wednesday nights’ game started well for the Reign with Kurtis MacDermid potting the first goal midway through the first period. Justin Auger increased their lead to 2-0 at the tail end of the period and the netminders took over from there. After a scoreless second period, the Laurent Dauphin (back in Tucson for a game before heading back to the Coyotes) managed to get the Roadrunners back in the game with a shorthanded goal. Dakota Mermis tied it up 10 minutes later, a goal which eventually sent the game to overtime. 2:18 into overtime, Teddy Purcell scored his first goal for the Reign in his first game on his own to give the Reign the 3-2 win.
Friday night’s game was a much different story. The Reign came out flat in the first period, letting the Roadrunners dictate every aspect of the game. Zbynek Michalek scored his first goal as a Roadrunner five minutes into the first period on the power play, unleashing the rain of fur in Tucson’s first ever Teddy Bear toss. Campbell managed to keep the score there for ten more minutes of onslaught from Tucson before Conor Garland broke through again. Three minutes later, Chris Mueller made it 3-0. Ontario managed to stop the bleeding during the period break and even cam back with a goal of their own from Mike Amadio in the second. Michael Mersch broke his scoring drought four and a half minutes into the third and the Reign were back in the game. A second goal from Mersch on the power play tied it up with 6:26 left to go. Tucson came right back with a power play goal to take the leaf once again just over a minutes later, but Jonny Brodzinski had an answer for the Reign with the tying goal twenty seconds after that. The flurry of goals sent the teams to overtime, where Christian Fischer took only 26 seconds on the power play again to win the game 5-4.
Saturday night, back in Ontario, the Reign were looking for a much better start against the Charlotte Checkers. This time they came out ready to play as Mike Amadio scored his 5th of the season just under fiver minutes into the game. Patrick Bjorkstrand, drawing back into the lineup after a five game absence, made it 2-0 midway through the period. Adrian Kempe choose a good time to break his own month-long goal scoring drought with a power play goal at 16:15 and the Reign ended the period up 3-0. For the first ten minutes of the second, however, Ontario let Charlotte have control of the game. It took two power plays for the Reign to generate any kind of offense and it was only by the skill of Jack Campbell that they didn’t surrender their lead. Campbell held, however, and Kurtis MacDermid tacked on another goal with two minutes left in the second. Campbell’s luck ran out with on 14 seconds left in the period as Levko Koper got the Checkers on the board. Zach Leslie had the response two minutes into the third period, putting the Reign up 5-1. Koper tried to rally his team with another goal at 12:28, but the Checkers couldn’t get anything else going and the Reign won 5-2.
Impressive: Mike Amadio has looked good in the past few games and has been rewarded with a few goals. It was also good to see Mersch’s hard work pay off in the goal column of the score sheet. With scoring now coming from more places in the line-up, the Reign should be able to cover whatever lapses may occur in goal or on the thin defense.
Not So Much: Do we even need to keep mentioning the penalty kill? It looked much better Saturday night, going 3 for 3, but was only 3 for 6 on Friday. Also concerning is the Reign’s return to taking periods off. On Wednesday, it cost them the lead. On Friday, they were forced to come back from a 3-0 deficit. They were lucky that they kept the lead on Saturday night and didn’t have to scramble to etch out a win.
Elsewhere in the Division: Bakersfield took the Gulls to overtime on Tuesday night before falling 4-3. They then needed overtime to win 3-2 against the Checkers on Friday night, but pulled out a decisive 5-2 win against the Stockton Heat on Saturday. The Gulls, for their part, took the week off then fell 3-0 to the San Jose Barracuda on Saturday. The Barracuda started their week off with a 4-0 thumping from the Stockton Heat on Thursday night before taking down the Gulls. The Heat began their week with California tradition of beating the Checkers, their win came with a score of 3-1 on Wednesday. The Texas portion of the division was in the mid-west this week, starting with San Antonio’s 3-2 overtime win over Rockford Wednesday night. They moved on to a 1-0 win in Iowa on Friday while the Stars welcomed Rockford to Cedar Park with an 8-4 trouncing. Rockford stayed on for Saturday night when they lost 2-1 to the Stars in the shoot-out.
Standings: The Stockton Heat have wrestled first place from the Roadrunners in the Pacific. With their two wins and one overtime loss, the Reign have moved into third place. The Stars are barely holding onto fourth place over the San Diego Gulls. The Barracuda and the Condors are fighting for sixth place, with San Jose currently on top. San Antonio is still firmly ensconced in eighth.
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