November has typically (if two years can be considered a trend) been the road month for the Ontario Reign. Last year, they had three home games for the entire month. This year, the road trips started earlier, but have extended deep into November with the Reign playing just three home games so far this season. In contrast, the Iowa Wild have played ten and will have played 13 by the end of the current home stand.
The Reign were also dealing with losing their netminder again as Jack Campbell was recalled to the Los Angeles Kings when Jeff Zatkoff was re-injured in Friday night’s loss. Anders Lindback was still with the team and Jack Flinn was hastily shipped over from Manchester to help on the back-to-back this weekend.
Both teams were in the middle of a multi-game losing streak. The Reign had won only one game in the past seven including rather unimpressive 5-1 loss to the San Antonio Rampage Wednesday night, while the Wild had dropped four of their past five games.
For the first two periods, the Reign turned in the same lackluster performance that led to the loss to San Antonio. Iowa took the 1-0 lead, but the Reign were able to tie it up with 1:43 remaining. The teams ended the first period tied at one, but something seemed lacking in the Reign’s game. The Wild took advantage of this in the second period, tallying three goals while allowing only one (even though it was 15 seconds after their second goal of the game), taking a 4-2 lead. More than the lead was the Wild outplaying the Reign. The stifling possession game the Reign were known for was not in evidence and Lindback was unable to make up for the lack of performance.
Both teams are known for being out-scored in the third period, but the Reign had regained a bit of focus & managed to put up three goals, including another power play goal and two goals in 1:05, to take their first lead of the game at 5-4. With their netminder pulled and riding the momentum of a late power play, the Wild were able to re-tie the game with only 19 seconds left, sending the game to overtime.
The overtime was a back and forth affair, with both teams generating good chances but unable to score, requiring a shoot-out to decide a victor.
Jonny Brodzinski – score Grayson Downing – no score
Adrian Kempe – no score Sam Anas – score
Michael Mersch – no score Alex Tuch – no score
T.J. Hensick – no score Jordan Schroder – no score
Sean Backman – score Teemu Pulkkinen – no score
The Reign halted their losing skid with a 6-5 win in Des Moines.
Impressive: The Reign managed to battle back from a bad second period to tie the game and take the lead. It is not something we’ve seen from them this year and is hopefully more indicative of a change in play rather than the Wild dropping third periods.
Not So Much: During the middle to end of last season, Ontario developed a habit of taking a period or two off during a game. We’ve been seeing this habit creeping back into this season with the Reign taking the first two periods off. It only being mid-November, it will be hard to correct as the winter slog begins. If it is not corrected early, it could cost them a chance at the post-season.
Elsewhere in Division: While the Reign were making their way east Friday night, the Tuscon Roadrunners were increasing their lead on the rest of the division with a 3-0 win over the Condors. Saturday night, the Condors held off a two-goal comeback from the Roadrunners to send the game to overtime, where they managed to hand the Roadrunners only their third loss of the season. The San Jose Barracuda were in Cedar Park, Texas, where Barclay Goodrow’s hat trick was not enough to beat the Stars’ five goals. The Barracuda had their revenge Saturday night where a four-goal third period propelled them to a 8-5 victory. The San Diego Gulls hosted the Manitoba Moose for the weekend, where Jordan Samuels-Thomas (former beloved Reign player) picked up his first two goals in his first two games as a Gull. The Gulls took those games 3-2 and 6-3. The San Antonio Rampage continued their California tour with a trip to Stockton. The doused the Heat with a 4-1 win on Friday night, but dropped Saturday night’s game 0-3.
The Reign play again this afternoon in Rockford, the only Pacific Division team in action today.