ONTARIO, CA – On Thursday, the Reign made waves by announcing that Anders Lindback had been released from his PTO. This led to speculation that either Jack Campbell was being returned or Jonah Imoo was ready. Moments later, the announcement was retracted. Apparently, the Reign were a day early in their release, the Kings still needed Campbell to back up Budaj that night. Friday afternoon, Campbell was sent up to Stockton to join the Reign, Zatkoff was activated off of injury and Lindback was released.
Friday night, Campbell was back in net to face the Stockton Heat and he was ready to play.
In a largely even contest with numerous momentum swings but no real domination of other team, it became a goaltending dual between Campbell and Rittich. The Reign scored first, 15 minutes into the first period when Auger was left alone in front of the net. Brett Sutter got him the puck and he sent it past Rittich for the 1-0 lead. Brandon Bollig, in his first game back since being injured, was able to tie the game with just 4 seconds left in the period.
That would be the end of the scoring for the rest of regulation as both teams tightened up their play and both net minders upped their game.
Despite a strong push in the last 10 minutes by the Heat, the Reign were able to hang on for overtime. In overtime, Matt Bailey got a clean breakaway on Campbell. The initial shot was stopped as was the first rebound. The Reign were unable to clear the puck, however, and Bailey poked the second rebound past Campbell for the win.
Impressive: Jack Campbell looked good in his return to the Reign. Almost as good a he did in the season opener against the Gulls and better than he’s looked since. Justin Auger was having his own impressive game, scoring the Reign’s only goal and being involved in most of their close calls throughout the rest of the game.
Not So Much: There is not much to criticize with the game the Reign played. One penalty kill was bad enough that the only reason the Heat didn’t score was because Campbell was in the zone. The Reign had more opportunities soon after, however, and did a much better job.
Elsewhere in the Division: The Tucson Roadrunners continued their AHL leading play with yet another win, this one over the Manitoba Moose. The Roadrunners are not completely out-laying other teams, but they find away to win almost every night and their losses are close as well. They currently hold a .818 winning percentage, good for best in the league. The San Jose Barracuda were down south in San Diego to play the Gulls in another close game that required overtime. This one went all the way to the shootout where the Barracuda finally won 3-2. The Texas Stars were in Grand Rapids to take on the Griffins. This back and forth affair saw a couple of lead changes before the Stars picked up the game-winning goal with just 2:40 left to play, defeating the Griffins 4-3. The Rampage hosted the Charlotte Checkers, spotting them a 1 goal lead before scoring 3 unanswered goals to win 3-1.