8-2. That was the final score from yesterday’s game against Allen. Reign fans were left stunned, wondering where their team had gone. We imagine Allen fans were wondering what the big deal was. The Reign seemed over-hyped.
It may comfort some to note that the Reign have had poor showings in both previous game ones of these playoffs. When they started the series against Colorado, way back in April, they looked like they hadn’t practiced in months. Joe Cannata had just returned from Utica and looked rustier than a haunted mansion’s iron gate. Passing was a distant memory and the defense looked like they were just learning the game. They would lose that one 4-2, lucky to get those two goals after remembering how to play late in the second period.
Fast forward to game one against Utah. We wrote the following in our recap –
The Reign were apparently not ready. After getting dominated for the first three minutes of the game, Rutherford managed to put the Reign up 1-0 with a goal off of their first shot (second really, since the goal was off of a Blackwater attempt that hit the post, but they don’t count those as shots on net). That’s all they would do for the rest of the period. Managing only two recorded shots and not many more attempts, the Reign seemed slow and out of sync for the first two periods.
Passing was a skill beyond them, turnovers were common, Matt White forgot how to stick handle, Judd Blackwater couldn’t maneuver around a light post and Tristan King looked like he had just come in from running a marathon.
Sound familiar? Only strong goaltending by Olkinuora and a slightly underpowered Utah offense kept the Reign in that one until they could force overtime.
Yesterday’s game was the same, minus the underpowered offense and strong goaltending. Unfortunately, Olkinuora took one of his mental vacations (he takes one every 10-12 games). Facing an extremely potent Allen offense that takes advantage of the smallest mistake, the Reign couldn’t do anything they needed to. The return of Cannata allowed Coach Christie to pull Olkinuora after allowing 3 goals on 4 shots (ouch!), but Cannata had once again rusted over. Add in a defense that couldn’t figure out coverage (including two brutal give-aways by Register that led to goals by Allen) and a passing game that forgot what sweater the Reign were wearing, and the Reign were embarrassed in their first Texas outing.
This leaves a small amount of hope for tonight’s game. The Reign have recovered in the last two series to play reasonably respectable games and Olkinuora tends to have a strong showing after a bad game, should Coach Christie go back to him. Add in the expected return of Judd Blackwater (preceded by the unexpected return of Rutherford to the line-up, displacing Tristan King), and the Reign should be able to at least keep up.