ONTARIO, CA – After a small break to celebrate the holidays, the Reign were back in what was supposed to be action against the Bakersfield Condors. Penalty free games can be interesting. Close, one goal games can be exciting. Last night’s battle against the Condors was not.
The Reign sat back and allowed the Condors to control most everything about the game for the first two periods while throwing a token defense up with limited checking. Jack Campbell was called upon to keep his lethargic team in the game.
It took 12 minutes, but the Condors were able to capitalize on the Reign’s sloppiness, with Joey LaLeggia slipping down to the bottom of the circles unnoticed. Jujhar Khaira fed him the puck and he fired it over Campbell’s shoulder. The Reign finally mustered some urgency in the last minute of the period and Brett Sutter was rewarded with the tying goal with 6 seconds before the buzzer.
The urgency didn’t carry through to the second period as the Reign sat back and let the Condors play in their zone for most of the period. The Reign were only able to put 3 shots on Laurent Brossoit to the Condors 11 shots on goal. Neither team broke through, however, and the period ended still tied.
Just one minute into the third period, another cross-ice pass gave Khaira a wide open net into which he deposited the puck, restoring the Condors one goal lead. That lead lasted all of 1:15 before Adrian Kempe broke loose and rushed up the ice before firing the puck past Brossoit to re-tie the game. Three minutes later, Brossoit let a Sean Backman shot go right past him to give the Reign their first lead of the game. The defensive shell the Reign slipped into lasted until 17:20, when Zach Leslie missed a check, creating a 2 on 1 situation that Vincent LoVerde was not expecting and not in a position to defend well. Scott Allen tied the game for the Condors, sending it into overtime.
Ontario finally came to play in overtime, controlling a good portion of the play and creating some chances. On the second shift, Teddy Purcell took over, skating the puck all over the Condors’ zone and drawing in their defenders. Kurtis MacDermid used the distraction to glide unmarked up the slot, where he picked up the pass Purcell fed him & fired the puck past Brossoit to win the game.
Impressive: Jack Campbell was once again solid in net, keeping his team in the game when they had no right being there.
Not So Much: Ontario’s effort last night was lacking in almost every aspect of the game. Their one goal lead was as much a mental lapse on Brossoit’s part as it was Backman’s shot.
Elsewhere in the Division: All three Pacific Division games went into overtime last night. The Barracuda finally prevailed over the Heat halfway through overtime for a 4-3 win. The Roadrunners needed two goals from former Gull, Chris Mueller, and his shoot-out goal to get the 5-4 win. The two Texas teams will play tonight while the Reign take a road-trip to San Diego. The Roadrunners win puts them back on top of the division with the Heat only 0.001 percentage points (pps) behind them. The Pacific Division is currently the tightest in the league, with only .226 pps separating first from eighth and .022 pps separating the top four teams.