ONTARIO, CA – There was no denying that Jack Campbell had a bad night on Wednesday. After allowing 5 goals on 15 shots, he was pulled in favor of Jack Flinn for the third period. Coach Mike Stothers is known for riding one goaltender almost to the exclusion of the back-up, however, so Campbell was back in the net with something to prove Friday night.
While the Reign had a much better start than against the Heat, the first period was still evenly matched between the two teams. The difference was Michael Mersch with Adrian Kempe’s assistance. Having unstuck the ketchup bottle, Mersch picked up his eighth goal of the season and fourth goal in five games. It came off of a Kempe shot that Laurent Broissoit stopped but didn’t cover. It took Mersch a couple of tries, but he finally lifted it over Broissoit’s pad to put the Reign up 1-0. At the end of the first, the teams were tied in shots at 11 a piece and had split possession evenly throughout the period.
The second period was much of the same, with neither team really holding an advantage over the other. The netminders were showcasing their talents with stop after stop to keep the game at 1-0. This time it was T.J. Hensick who pounced on a rebound and shoved it past Broissoit to put the Reign up 2-0 at 17:44.
A quick goal 25 seconds into the third period from Jonny Brodzinski put the Reign up 3-0, but the Condors weren’t ready to quit. After wrestling momentum from Ontario, they finally managed to solve Campbell when a bouncing puck from a Kyle Platzer shot leapt over a diving Campbell and rattled around the crease. No one could get a handle on it and it finally rolled over the goal line to make the score 3-1. The Condors built on the goal, bringing wave after wave of pressure against Campbell. Campbell held strong with assistance from his defense for most of the period. At 18:39, however, a shot slipped through his pads to bring the Condors within one. The CBBA was on the edge of their seats as the Condors tried to tie the game, but ultimately fell 3-2.
Impressive: Campbell had a great answer to Wednesday night’s performance. He was on his game for most of the night, covering for the Reign when mental lapses gave the Condors the advantage. Michael Mersch has also looked like a man on a mission, and has been rewarded on the score sheet.
Not So Much: While the Reign had a better start, their play fell off of again and the beginning of the second period. Lazy passes led to bad turnovers and many a puck battle was lost.
Elsewhere in the Division: The Roadrunners were out in San Antonio to take on the Rampage. The two teams would need overtime to decide the 5-4 game, but Tucson eventually took the game.
Down the freeway in Cedar Park, the Stars hosted the Milwaukee Admirals who thanked them by winning 4-3.
Stockton continued their Southern California swing with a visit to San Diego. They jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first and extended it to 4-0 by the midpoint of the second. The Gulls fought back with two quick goals of their own at the end of the period, but couldn’t get much further. Another Heat goal with 4 minutes left in the game made it 5-2 and Gulls could only muster one more goal at 19:23 to make the final score 5-3.
Those three games will go through a rematch on Saturday night while the Condors get to run up to San Jose to meet the Barracuda. The Reign get the night off before making their own trek up north to see the Barracuda.