It was a relatively good weekend standings wise for the Reign. They increased their lead on the Rockford Icehogs and closed the gap on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
In game play, however, the Reign struggled to stay out of the box, giving their penalty kill plenty of practice (silver linings and such).
The San Diego Gulls were the first up on the opponents list, drawing the Reign’s teddy bear toss night for their meeting. The Gulls went up early on a power play goal, but Justin Auger responded with his fifth of the season to start the rain of fluffies. Auger’s goal came at 16:28 in the first and the stuffed storm lasted a good ten minutes, forcing the officials to end the first period early and add the 3:32 onto the second period.
Four minutes into the second period, Nick Ritchie put the Gulls up 2-1 with his second of the night and 11th of the season.
The Reign would need the rest of the game and an extra skater from pulling Budaj to tie the game with only 25 seconds left. Five minutes of overtime was not enough for the rivals and the game went to the shoot-out. Nick Ritchie once again stepped up, sending one past Budaj. The Reign were unable to solve Khodoubin and the Gulls won the shoot-out.
The Gulls went 1 for 6 on the power play while the Reign were 0 for their 6. Six penalties may seem par for the course in a rivalry game, but it is a growing trend with the Reign.
Sunday’s game was a parade to the box for the Reign as they took 10 penalties in the first 2 periods, none of them for fighting or post-whistle scrums. The short-handed time caught up to them with a Condors power play goal mid-way through the second.
The Reign did not need any late game heroics this time, as Nick Ebert found an uncovered Joel Lowry with a cross-ice pass that Lowry tipped into a gaping net to tie the game at one five minutes into the third. The teams would keep it that way, needing overtime yet again to settle on a winner.
Sean Backman needed only 20 seconds and a feed from Vincent LoVerde to win the game for the Reign.
Ontario took 16 penalties in two games this weekend and went 2 for 16 on the penalty kill (87.5% kill rate). They are still second in the league with an overall kill rate of 88.8%, buffered by the shear volume of power play opportunities given their opponents.
Impressive: Kevin Gravel has been steadily increasing the level of his play lately and has subsequently been earning increased ice time.
Not So Much: Kurtis MacDermid’s play has been slipping lately, showcased by an especially poor performance in Sunday’s game. So much so that he apparently sat in super glue for the last five minutes of the game & did not return to the ice.
Elsewhere in the Division: Texas was in Grand Rapids this weekend and it didn’t go well for them. after allowing three goals in the third period to lose 5-4 on Friday, they were handed a 6-1 loss by the Griffins the next night. San Antonio spent the week in Manitoba where they also struggled. A 5-1 loss on Wednesday was followed by a closer 3-2 loss on Thursday. Sunday brought a win against in the Iowa Wild in Des Moines, but the losses left them in 9th place in the conference San Diego’s weekend was much brighter, picking up two overtime wins to take over 2nd in the division. Bakersfield split two games with Stockton before falling to the Reign on Sunday. Stockton followed suit by loosing to the San Jose Barracuda 5-4 in their Sunday game.
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