ONTARIO, CA – December is the month for minor league teams to hold their Teddy Bear Toss. Saturday night was the night for both Southern California teams. While the San Diego Gulls were engaged in a close battle with the Stockton Heat, the Ontario Reign were being outplayed by the Tucson Roadrunners.
Ontario held their own against the Roadrunners for most of the first period, only allowing one goal. Ryan MacInnis was waiting around the front of the net when Jack Campbell dove out of position to stop a Kyle Wood shot. MacInnis picked up the rebound & fired it over a swimming Campbell. The Reign didn’t let the goal quench their fire and they had a few close calls that Adin Hill was more than a match for.
That spark faded in the second, with the Roadrunners taking full control of the game and increasing their lead to 2-0 off of a Mike Sislo goal. Ontario’s passing game crippled any attempt at offense, turning the puck over multiple times near their own blue line. It was the third turnover from Bokondji Imama that led trapped tired players in the defensive zone and led to Sislo’s goal.
Matt Moulson played hero 2:37 into the third period, putting the Reign on the board and triggering the rain of stuffed toys. The hope was short-lived, however, when another blueline turnover, this one by Zac Leslie, gave Emerson Etem the puck unchallenged, who promptly fired it past Campbell. Three minutes later, yet another turnover by Sean Walker at the blueline led to a goal from Tyler Gaudet. Ontario could not recover, running around trying to get the puck back only to turn it over again. Two more goals from the Roadrunners ended Campbell’s night after he had face 49 shots. The Reign still couldn’t find any type of offense and never fully challenged for another goal.
The Good: The Reign were not shut out on Teddy Bear Toss night.
The Bad: The list is almost too long. The defense was disjointed and out of sync once again. The passing game was terrible, puck control was non-existent. Campbell fell apart in the third period after keeping the Reign in the game for two periods. The forward lines couldn’t find any chemistry.
The Ugly: it was a bad night for those wearing an eight. Imama, Leslie, and Walker took turns turning over the puck or just making poor decisions. Four of the six goals can be directly linked to a turnover or bad coverage by one of these players.
The Reign will be back on the ice Wednesday night to try and redeem their poor performance and return to November’s form.