ONTARIO,CA- Cleveland was good for the Ontario Reign. We’ve stated it before, but it bears repeating. In less than one month, the Reign have gone from bottom of the league to 18th. Since their first win on October 28th, the Reign have gone 6-1-1. Friday night, they took their biggest step forward in the standings, vaulting from 7th over San Jose & San Diego to 5th place in the Pacific Division with a playoff berth in sight.
San Jose came to town having just fought back to being a .500 team but slipping below San Diego in the standings. They put rookie goaltender, Parker Gahagen in net to face a surging Reign squad for his first game.
Gahagen held his own for two periods, surviving a first period dominated by the Reign and a relatively equal second period. It was the 21st shot from Stepan Falkovsky that broke the stalemate, putting the Reign up 1-0 just 2 minutes into the period. Two and a half minutes later, Brett Sutter built on Falkovsky’s success with a goal of his own. Justin Auger would make it 3-0 after another 2:35, giving the Reign 3 goals on 4 shots in 5 minutes. The Barracuda put together their own offensive push after that, but the damage was done and Peterson was in the zone, earning his second shut-out of the year.
The Good: Falkovsky had a big night after the first period. After a somewhat unremarkable start, he found his grove, sparking a fire with an almost fight, scoring the first and ultimately the game-winning goal, being awarded the Toughest Hit of the Night and being a driving force on the ice. Kevin Gravel also looked like he had a fire lit under his motivations, playing with more drive than we’ve seen all year. Paul LaDue looked much more comfortable on the ice as well.
The Bad: Sean Walker was not having a good game. In one sequence, he attempted three bad passes. The first was recovered by teammates. The second was turned over to the Barracuda, allowing them extending offensive zone time. The third resulted in a turnover right in front of Peterson, nearly putting the Barracuda up 1-0. That was one shift.
The Ugly: Nothing. Really, it was a good game on both sides of the ice.
Fun Stat: The Reign have not allowed more than one goal against in their last five games.