CEDAR PARK, TX – Historically, Texas has been good to the Reign. They had yet to lose in regulation to the Stars and often got a large boost to their offense.
Their visit to Cedar Park didn’t go so well this year.
Friday night, the Reign took on the Texas Stars on their own ice after another week of goalie uncertainty. The LA Kings had made contact with Anders Lindback and convinced him to come back over to the States to play for the Reign. While they were waiting on his playing visa to go through, they brought up Jack Flinn. The Reign had signed Troy Redmann to a PTO for the practice week, but with three games in three days they needed a goalie that they could trust to start a game or two.
Flinn got the start Friday night behind a Reign squad still struggling to find their way. The Reign played yet another sloppy game, allowing the Stars to grab an early 1-0 lead before leap-frogging them to a 2-1 lead. They then allowed the Stars to go up 4-2 before staging a comeback to tie the game. The Stars weren’t done, however, and a goal early in the third put them up 5-4 for good. Texas picked up their first regulation win against Ontario and dropped the Reign to fourth in the division.
Saturday night, Jonah Imoo was back in net. This time, the Reign were ready to enforce their style of hockey. They played a hard checking defensive game allowing few good chances on net. Imoo held his own but for one shot that crept through in the first. The Reign took over most of the second period of play, tying the game with their oddly potent power play (currently first in the league at a 45% success rate). The struggling penalty kill (26th in the league) found its feet, shutting down 5:40 of consecutive Stars power play including 20 seconds of 5-on-3.
Then, whatever curse the Kings organization picked up kicked in. After a goal-mouth scramble midway through the third period, Imoo was slow to get up. Favoring what appeared to be his right knee, he was eventually taken off the ice and Jack Flinn took over. The Reign managed to make it to overtime, despite more penalties and another 5 on 3. The 2 man advantage followed the Stars into overtime, however, and they were able to convert this time to win the game 38 seconds in.
In his post game interview, Coach Stothers was not optimistic about Imoo’s condition. Stating that these types of injuries usually get worse the next day, he also noted that they had brought Dusty Imoo‘s equipment. While Lindback is with the team in Texas, it is highly unlikely that his visa will have been approved on a Saturday night. All signs point to Flinn starting Sunday’s game in San Antonio with Dusty Imoo as back-up.
Impressive: The Reign’s power play has been oddly successful so far this year. It went 2 for 3 on Friday night and yielded the only Reign goal Saturday night. With a 45.5% success rate, they are far and away the best in the league. The Roadrunners are the next closest with a 28% success rate.
Not So Much: That penalty kill, though. As of Saturday’s game, it was firing at 58%. That is terrible for even a beer league team. Saturday’s game saw a vast improvement, however, pushing it up to 74%. Still not spectacular, but better.
Elsewhere in the Division: San Jose and Tucson finally had their home openers this weekend. The Barracuda started theirs off with a 4-0 win over the Condors, scoring all four of their goals in the second period. Saturday night, the two teams needed a shoot-out to determine Bakersfield as the winner, splitting the weekend. Tucson hosted the hot Stockton Heat before a capacity crowd of just over 6,000 for their franchise first home game. The high-scoring affair saw the Roadrunners erase a 2 goal deficit twice before finally downing the Heat 6-5. The win vaulted the Roadrunners to the top of the division and handed the Heat their second loss of the young season (their first was also to the Roadrunners).
Earlier in the week, the Gulls started their road trip with a stop in Stockton. In another oddly high scoring affair, the Heat downed the Gulls 7-5. After that, the Gulls headed to Manitoba to face the Moose. The Gulls grabbed a 2-1 lead over the Moose in the second, but Manitoba tied it up late in the third to force overtime. The Moose needed 1:31 to pull out the overtime win over San Diego. The next night, the Moose had San Diego down 4-1 before the Gulls mounted their own comeback. After clawing their way back to tie the game 12:11 into the third, however, the Gulls surrender the game-winning goal just over a minute later, falling 5-4 to the Moose.
The Rampage started their week with a 4-2 win over the Stars on Tuesday. After which, they journeyed up to Cleveland to take on the Calder Cup Champion Monsters. The Rampage pulled out another 4-2 win on Thursday night and earned a 4-1 win on Friday night.