ONTARIO, CA – Throughout the first portion of the season, the Stockton Heat have been battling the Tucson Roadrunners for first place in the Pacific Division. The Ontario Reign have now played each team three times with vastly different outcomes against each opponent.
Against Tucson, the Reign have struggled for most of the game, consistently being outplayed and losing 2 of 3 games. Their only win was more of a gift from a young Roadrunner netminder who was not having a good night.
Their matches against Stockton have been much more even affairs, with neither team able to fully shut down the other and one game being decided in overtime.
Friday night was no different when the teams met for the third time this year.
Ontario controlled a good portion of the first period, building on an unassisted goal from Matt Luff just 4 minutes into the game and earning three power plays in a row. Unfortunately, the Reign power play started the game completely powerless and though it improved with each chance, they never truly threatened to score again.
Eddie Lack weathered the Reign assault in the first until his team could turn the tables in the second. Five minutes in, Spencer Foo sent a laser over Cal Peterson’s shoulder to tie the game. The Heat took the opportunity to push the Reign, trapping them in their own zone and forcing them to take a couple of penalties. Like Ontario, however, the Heat power play could not capitalize on the chances and the game remained tied.
The third period opened with two more Stockton penalties, and this time the Reign power play was able to break through. Jordan Subban picked up his second goal of the season in the first power play (both with the Reign) and gave Ontario the lead with a well-placed shot of his own. The lead was short-lived, however, as Austin Carroll tied the game just 1:18 later. Andrew Mangiapane would give Stockton their first lead of the game at 13:31 when he took advantage of Stepan Falkovsky’s broken stick to line up a shot, firing the puck past Peterson. This time, the Reign responded within two minutes when Matt Luff deflected Alex Lintuniemi’s shot-pass for his second of the game. Four minutes later, Andrew Crescenzi was hanging around in the mosh-pit in front of Lack when a rebound was spit out to him. He picked it up and sent it past Lack, who hadn’t reset from stopping the first shot, for the game-winning goal with only 53 seconds left. The clock hit zero with the Reign coming out on top with the 4-3 victory.
The Good: Jordan Subban was having a good night, for the most part, picking up a goal and an assist and having an impact almost every time he was on the ice. Matt Luff had a great 1st and 3rd period with 2 goals but disappeared in the 2nd. Mike Amadio picked up another 2 assists and leads the Reign in points.
The Bad: The Reign once again struggled in the second period and had many lapses in the third. While none cost them the game, it could have easily gone the other way.
The Ugly: There was a long delay after Luff’s first goal as a stanchion came apart and the ice crew did not have the proper tools at hand to reassemble it. From not having a tall enough ladder to leaving the required wrench in the back, it was not a shining moment for the mostly behind the scenes crew.