ONTARIO, Calif. – March madness has begun as all winter sports ramp up for playoffs or begin playoffs. Out west, the Pacific Division of the AHL continues to be up for grabs with all seven teams in the running for a postseason berth.
Scheduling has brought a few Central Division teams to California for a final Pacific tour before wrapping up their season. Wednesday night, Ontario welcomed the Cleveland Monsters to the Citizens Bank Business Arena.
Having split their last two games but playing badly in both, the Reign were looking to find some direction for their game. The Monsters, out of the playoff race, were looking to play spoilers on this tour.
The Reign opened up the game strong, playing with far more interest than their past few bouts. got them on the board first with a power-play goal midway through the first period. The Monsters were able to push back by the end of the period, but Cal Petersen held them off.
The Monsters carried their momentum into the second period, however, and scored just 32 seconds into the frame to tie the game. Under two minutes later, they took a 2-1 lead and it looked like the Reign had done their fading trick. A few skirmishes and roughing minors later, however, and the Reign were back in the game. Austin Wagner repeated his performance from Friday night, powering around defenders to re-tie the game at 2.
The teams settled into an evenly matched game after that and had to use extra time to determine a winner. T.J. Hensick picked up the second point for the Reign with his second goal of the night.
The Good: T.J. Hensick is slowly looking more like the leading scorer he was last year, his offensive output has been sorely missed. Austin Wagner seems to look better with each game, coming up with timely goals & energy for his line.
The Bad: Jonny Brodzinski has been largely invisible for the past few games, eventually finding himself on the third line with limited minutes. The Reign need him to regain his form to make the final push.
The Ugly: After a good start to the game, the Reign faded back again and almost lost the game in two minutes of broken concentration. After that, they could only fight the team sitting in last place in the Central to a draw. They still need more from everyone in the lineup.
Check out our photo gallery from the game, here: https://thesinbin.net/photos-cleveland-monsters-vs-ontario-reign-3-14-17/