Ontario, CA- Cleveland was good for the Ontario Reign.
They left on the two-game trip without having won a game, scored a power play goal, or having scored a goal at all in the first period. They had never led in a game.
All of these issues were remedied in Ohio. The only question was whether the progress made would follow the team back to Southern California.
Wednesday night, while the rest of SoCal watched the Dodgers try to beat the storyline of Houston winning the World Series, the Reign faithful gathered to watch them take on the San Jose Barracuda.
They came out swinging in the first period, trapping the Barracuda in their own zone for extended periods of time and peppering Antoine Bibeau with shots. Just over eight minutes in, the Reign were rewarded for their work when Matt Luff picked up a rebound off of a Kevin Gravel shot and sent it past Bibeau. Then it became the Jonny Brodzinski and Jack Campbell show. The Barracuda managed to get some pressure on Campbell, coming up with some great chances, but Campbell turned them aside. At 17:03, JonnyB had a rush up the ice very reminiscent of his plays from last season. A quick shot just inside the blue line sent it past Bibeau to put the Reign up by 2. Two minutes later, JonnyB made it 3-0 and the Reign looked like a completely different team than the one from opening weekend.
They began to lose some of their drive in the second, allowing San Jose more chances & time in front of Campbell. Alexander True capitalized on this just under 9 minutes into the period, cutting the lead to 2.
Ontario was back on their heels through much of the third period, often getting trapped in their own zone chasing the puck. Midway through the period, Brandon Mashinter found himself uncovered just to the right of Campbell with time. After staring Campbell down, he fired it past him to bring the Barracuda within one. San Jose emptied their net with two minutes left, but JonnyB was on the ice & danced around the defenders for the hat trick.
The Good: Jonny Brodzinski seemed to find the spark that has been missing so far this year, not just in scoring but being a threat whenever he was on the ice. Jack Campbell kept the Reign’s lead when they had their lapses, stopping point-blank shots and deflected pucks multiple times.
The Bad: After a good first period, the Reign began to noticeably decline. They were able to hold on for a win, but it was a close thing.
The Future: The SoCal rivalry kicks off the 2017-18 season in San Diego Friday night as the teams play the first home-and-home series of the season. These two teams have hated each other since the first preseason game they played in 2015. The hatred has shown no signs of declining anytime soon.