ONTARIO, Ca. – It is no secret that the Pacific Division has the tightest playoff race in the league currently. With only 0.111 percentage points separating all seven teams and every team above 0.500, every win or loss shifts the standings. Divisional games have that much more meaning as teams fight for every point to slip into a playoff spot. Add in a regional rivalry that generally brings out the worst in the players and one would expect any game between the Ontario Reign and the San Diego Gulls to be a penalty filled fight for every inch of ice.
Friday night, however, was more of a midseason throw-away game.
The Reign chased Reto Berra from the net with three goals on six shots in six minutes of game time, and then shut down. The Gulls spent the entire first period chasing the puck and struggling for possession, much less offense. Both teams seemed tentative at best, uninterested at worst.
The Gulls managed to find their footing in the second, largely due to the Reign’s sloppy play. Passes were off target or mishandled, pucks were stripped with ease, and no one seemed willing to take a hit to make a play.
The third period was more of the same, with less intensity. Both net-minders stopped everything sent their way, leaving the three goals as the only ones scored.
The Good: The win vaulted Ontario to second in the division and fourth in the conference. Cal Peterson picked up his third shut-out of the season.
The Bad: After the initial scoring spree, the Reign couldn’t generate any more goals. While they had a few good chances, the majority of the shots were easy stops for Kevin Boyle.
The Ugly: Neither team looked good on the ice. Peterson earned the shut-out, but he looked shaky doing it. Had the Gulls not been playing the worst game we’ve seen them play all year, it could easily been a blow-out of the Reign
The Future: Ontario has four home games this week, two of which are against the Pacific Division. They will need to keep winning and do it during regulation to keep a playoff spot.