ONTARIO, CA – At the beginning of training camps, we noted that scoring could be an issue for the Reign this season. No one expected it to be this bad.
Five games into the season, the Reign have only four goals and have twice gone over 125 minutes without scoring. As a result, they are still looking for their first victory.
Friday night’s game against the Condors was characterized by sloppy, indifferent play and a listless home crowd. Saturday night started out with more of the same. The Reign became careless with the puck, turning it over to the Condors who would not give it back. After running around in their own zone for most of a shift, Ty Rattie sent it past Peterson to give the Condors the early lead.
The second period saw a little more jump enter the Reign’s game. They killed off a penalty and picked up a power play that actually had some teeth to it. A shot seemed to go into the net and come out. The fans were ready to celebrate, but the ref waved it off and play continued. A review upheld the no-goal call. Shortly after the reviewed goal, the Condors scored their second goal and Ontario deflated.
The Reign were headed to an opening weekend shutout when Paul LaDue finally put them on the board. With under two minutes left and an empty net, LaDue finally solved the Ellis puzzle and brought the Reign within a goal of tying it. They pushed hard and gave the fans a solid 1:30 of excitement and hope before LaLeggia put in the empty net goal, sealing the 3-1 victory and weekend sweep for the Condors.
The Good: Phillippe Maillet continued to look dangerous, leading the team in energy and persistence. Just one step below him was Sean Walker. Walker was fully committed to every shift all weekend long, even jumping into plays to try and help spark offense. Mid-way through the second period, the Reign began to show glimpses of the dominant squad they appear to be on paper. The potential is there, should they ever chose to tap into it.
The Bad: The Reign followed the same trend last weekend. A poor Friday night game followed by hope in the Saturday night game that just wasn’t enough. They seem to take a step back whenever they have a few days off, unable to build on the progress made during games.
The Ugly: It is painfully evident that the players do not trust each other. Multiple players try to cover the same opponent, leading to collisions and uncovered shooters. Passes are made to empty ice, easily picked off by the other team. In preseason and perhaps the first week, this is understandable. Three weeks and two road trips in, eyebrows should be raised. If it continues into week 4 and 5, a serious look should be taken at the overall chemistry of the team.