ONTARIO, CA – We’ve been critical of both the Reign’s power play and penalty kill as of late as well as the chemistry on the ice.
Last night’s game was a large improvement in all three areas.
Festivities started with an early fight between Paul Bissonnette and Dustin Stevenson. It was a pre-arranged tilt that had the feel of something carried over from the previous match between the Heat and the Reign. Jonny Brodzinski was the first to put the Reign on the board with help from Nic Dowd and Joel Lowry 10 minutes into the first period. The rest od the period was an even match between the two teams, with both registering 8 shots on goal and two penalties.
The second period began with another early Reign penalty and seemed to be destined for more of the same. A good fore-check by Jordan Samuels-Thomas forced a turnover, however, and Crescenzi jumped in to help, scoring the Reign’s first short-handed goal of the season. Four minutes later, while a the tail end of a 5 on 3 power play, Kempe found Dowd with a cross-ice pass and Down deposited the puck in the net to make the score 3-0 Reign. It would be 17 minutes into the second before the Stockton could score one of their own. The goal was not noticed by the officials or the crowd, but was awarded after a review a minute and a half later. The second period closed with the Reign out-shooting Stockton 26-19 (at the end of the period, the scoreboard showed 20 Heat shots, but one was removed before the beginning of the third)
The third period was all Ontario. They started with an even strength goal by Kempe and moved onto another short-handed goal by Sean Backman and another power play goal from Kevin Gravel. By the end of the game, Gravel and Kempe had two points a piece while Backman and Dowd had three points a piece. Six other Reign players registered points and the Reign took the game 6-1.
Impressive: The Reign’s penalty kill was back online and fully in sync. The lines of Kempe-Army-Backman and Zykov-Crescenzi-Samuels-Thomas were in sync and dangerous every time they were on the ice.
Not So Much: In his first game after being returned from the Kings, Derek Forbort was largely invisible.
Elsewhere in the Division: The California teams didn’t fair so well as San Diego fell to the Checkers 3-1 (the California air seems to do good things for Carolina) and Bakersfield lost 3-1 to San Antonio. Texas had a better time of it in Chicago, wining 3-1 there. San Jose took the night off.
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