ONTARIO, CA – After a terrible start to the season which saw them ensconced at the bottom of the league, it looks like the Reign ship has righted itself. Now comes the battle to climb back into relevance in the standings.
That journey started with a short trip up to Northern California where they split a two-game series against the Baracuda. It continued last night when they played the Stockton Heat for the first time this season. The Heat are the only California team doing well so far this season (we’ll go over that trend later), sitting in second place behind the Tucson Roadrunners.
The Heat came to Ontario riding a three-game win streak and having not lost two games in a row all season.
In what was a surprisingly equal contest, it was the goaltending that made the difference. Jack Campbell took a little bit to fully get into the game, but once focused, he was a wall. He stopped at least five high-quality scoring chances in the first period alone (4 of them in a five minute span) and finished the night having stopped 28 of 29 shots (in addition to many other chances that were not counted as official shots). While Jon Gillies was not terrible, he ended the night having only stopped 24 of the Reign’s 27 shots.
The Good: The Reign are now playing as a cohesive unit. Lines can actually be seen to have chemistry instead of a bunch of individuals flailing around the ice. Mike Amadio seems to have brought a fire back with him from the Kings, his play noticeably better. He was rewarded with two of the Reign’s three goals and the first star of the night.
The Bad: There is something off with Paul LaDue & Kevin Gravel. LaDue is the most noticeable, the vision and decision making that had him spending half a year with the Kings missing. Gravel just spears uninterested. having lost his NHL spot to Kurtis MacDermid seems to have stolen his drive.
The Ugly: Jack Campbell did not start the game well. He appeared to have trouble going from post to post & couldn’t adjust fast enough to stop Stockton’s shot off of the face-off. While he locked it back down after that goal & was the difference, there were times when he appeared to not be able to move freely & a couple of times appeared to favor possible sore/injured legs.
The Reign will look to continue the climb on Friday at home against San Jose. They’ll remain at home for the weekend as they’ll host San Antonio on Sunday.