After a brief stop at home for a couple of games, the Ontario Reign were back on the road for a tour of California.
First stop was in Bakersfield to take on the Condors. The Condors were in a fight for the last playoff spot in the West, trying to stay ahead of the Stockton Heat. The Reign were firmly encamped in third place, unable to catch the San Diego Gulls but not too concerned with the Condors or Heat.
Friday night, luck was with the Reign. The teams played an even game with neither really dominating the other at any point. The bounces went the Reign’s way, however, and they took the game 3-1.
Saturday night, the Condors showed up to play while the Reign were suffering from a bout of apathy. While not completely out-played, they still did not have the urgency to match Bakersfield. The Condors took the game 4-1, out shooting Ontario 28-10.
Done with middle California, Ontario took a couple of days off before heading up to San Jose. Unfortunately, their apathy followed them. The Barracuda are comfortably sitting in first place of both the Pacific Division and the League for a reason. San Jose dominated the Reign from one end of the rink to the other, out-shooting them 13-1 through the first half of the game. Jeff Zatkoff held off the assault for the first two periods, allowing only two goals on 30 shots. Five minutes after TJ Hensick had cut the Barracuda’s lead to one goal, however, San Jose broke the game wide open. With three unanswered goals in under five minutes, they solidified the win, notching a 5-2-1 record for the season against Ontario.
Impressive: There is little enough to be happy about with Ontario’s last three games. At no point did they look like a team that could make it out of the first round, much less go deep in the playoffs. A small light would be newcomer Matt Roy. He has been decently impressive since being assigned to the IE.
Not So Much: We’ve mentioned that the Reign have overall been not impressive. Standing out once again is Matt Roy. While providing some good opportunities offensively, he has had some glaring mistakes in front of his own net, a few leading directly to goals against. He has a lot to learn in a short time to not be a liability in the playoffs.
Elsewhere in the Division: After their win against the Reign on Saturday, the Condors packed up and headed out to Texas. The Stars met them Wednesday night and handed them a 4-3 loss. Ahead of the Condors on the Tour of Texas are the Stockton Heat. The Heat started their tour with a 4-1 win over the Stars last Tuesday. They then headed up to San Antonio where they beat the Rampage 3-2 and then 5-3. The three wins pushed the Heat above the Condors, taking over the playoff spot. Wednesday night, the Heat were back in California to take on the Gulls in a 5-3 win.Earlier in the week, the Gulls picked up four more points by stomping all over the Roadrunners 8-2 and 4-1.
Separations: The San Jose Barracuda hold a six-point lead over the San Diego Gulls for first place. Nine points down from that are the Ontario Reign. With their current streak, the Stockton Heat have crept up to within six points of the Reign. Only two points out of a playoff spot are the Bakersfield Condors. All five teams have five games remaining in the season.