ONTARIO, CA – Vincent LoVerde may be the most underrated player for the Ontario Reign. He is a captain who leads by example and can pull his team out of bad game. He is known for the goal that ignites a flagging team or a hit that sets the tone for the game.
The Reign are missing him right now and it shows more each night. It is even more obvious with absence of Nic Dowd.
These issues became glaringly clear in Wednesday night’s game against the San Jose Barracuda. Ontario managed to get a good start, sharing possession almost equally with the Barracuda and at times controlling the game. A goal by Emanuelsson with 4 minutes left in the first period took all of the wind out of the Reign’s sails.
They came into the second period with the same lack of interest they have shown in their other slow starts. San Jose responded with a goal at 5:21 to go up 2-0. Another bad goal from just above the goal line put the Barracuda up 3-0 and ended Peter Budaj’s night. Michael Houser came in to relieve Budaj and spark the Reign. The move seemed to work as Ontario began piling shots at the net, but only Kris Newbury was able to break through with the help of Jonny Brodzinski.
The third period saw more chances from the Reign and a little more jump in their game, but not much. They would not be able to score again on Aaron Dell and lost the game 3-1.
Impressive: Have we mentioned Jonny Brodzinski lately? He continues to impress, scoring points in four straight games.
Not So Much: The Reign don’t seem to be interested in dominating other teams like they did at the beginning of the season. Their physical play has dropped off and they no longer seem like the team who would roll over anyone on their way to a win. It may be redundant to mention it, but the power play still has issues.
The Playoff Picture: The Reign have clinched a playoff spot. Their magic number to clinch the division is 7 (a combination of winning 7 points or the Gulls & Stars losing 7 points). Their magic number to clinch the Conference is 13 points. Being as they only have 7 games left, that one will be a bit harder to come by.
The Gulls and the Stars have their playoff clinching number down to 8. The Gulls are holding on to second place by 0.007 percentage points. The win over the Reign slid the Barracuda back in the playoff picture by 0.006 percentage points. They have a magic number of 14 while the Charlotte Checkers have a number of 17.
It’s still a close race and positions will change with every game.