Ontario, Calif.— It was another strong weekend of games for the Reign, as they beat both Bakersfield and San Diego to claim first place in the Pacific Division with a record of 4-0-0-1.
Friday: Ontario 3, Bakersfield 2
Friday night was the first meeting of the Bakersfield Condors and the Ontario Reign this season, and it didn’t start out too well for Ontario, as Seth Griffith opened the scoring for the Condors on a 5-on-3 power play just over five minutes in, as Jordan Spence and then Jacob Moverare took minor penalties thirty seconds apart. Halfway through the period, though, the Reign answered back with a power-play goal of their own from Brayden Burke as he scored his second of the season.
What a look on the PP for the boys! pic.twitter.com/72phs71wNi
— Ontario Reign (@ontarioreign) October 23, 2021
Goals followed in the second and third period from the two Austins; Wagner and Strand, to make it a 3-1 game with 17 minutes left in the third, and while Ryan McLeod cut the deficit to one with a mid-period tally, the Reign would take this one 3-2 in regulation.
A standout in this game was Alex Turcotte, as he assisted on all three Reign goals, earning First Star of the Game. Also strong was Garret Sparks, making his first start of the season and ending with 35-of-37 saves; not a bad debut for the goalie.
The Reign continue to take a lot of penalties, giving Bakersfield eight attempts on the power play Friday, including the 5-on-3 that they scored on early in the game, as well as another two-man advantage at the end of the second period and leading into the third. The Condors only managed one power-play goal, but it’s starting to become a pattern for the Reign, as they have been shorthanded 19 times in five games, fifth-most in the league. As their penalty kill is the 23rd best in the league, their penchant for stick-based crimes is going to continue to hurt what is otherwise a very strong team.
Saturday: Ontario 5, San Diego 1
The San Diego Gulls rolled back into town on Saturday for the Reign’s annual Dia De Muertes game, looking for revenge from the opening night loss handed to them by Ontario. It wasn’t to be, however, as the Reign handed them a 5-1 loss.
The Reign opened the scoring, with Aidan Dudas scoring his second of the season, quickly followed less than a minute later by Burke, who has now scored in two consecutive games and has three goals in his last four games. In the second period, Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Austin Wagner added to the lead, making it 4-0 Reign going into the third. Tyler Madden would collect two assists, as would Helge Grans, and TJ Tynan added his sixth point in five games with an assist on Anderson-Dolan’s first of the year.
This is officially a Brayden Burke stan account now pic.twitter.com/j9pdR1DLiB
— Ontario Reign (@ontarioreign) October 24, 2021
Nine seconds into the third period, the Gulls finally broke through, with Vinni Lettieri’s second of the season on the power play, but with less than a minute left, Samuel Fagemo scored his third of the season, putting this game on ice.
It was yet another strong game for the goaltending in Ontario, as Matt Villalta recorded another win, making 33 of 34 saves, and with this victory, the Reign have a goal differential of +8, good for best in the league; a far cry from last season, where they couldn’t seem to stop the goals against piling up.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about this game is not the scoreline, though, but the fact that the Reign only took three minor penalties all game (plus a fighting major from Cameron Gaunce). After the penalty bonanza against Bakersfield, this game felt like a breath of fresh air and frankly must have left the referees looking for something to do with their hands.
The Reign are going on the road, taking the trip up to Abbotsford, BC, to face the Canucks in a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday.
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