Reign goaltender Jeff Zatkoff is the Rbk Hockey ECHL Goaltender of for the week of Oct. 20-26. He was a runner-up for the award last week after making 29 saves in his first professional start, a 2-1 win at Bakersfield on Oct. 18.
My interview with Steve Eckerson, Citizens Business Bank Arena general manager, is appearing on page B3 of tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Bulletin, but will not appear online. Except here …
“WE WIN!” is the flashing mantra on the jumbotron, the “Dark Knight” is waving the Reign flag at center ice, and the players raise their sticks and address the cheering crowd (paid attendance: 8,832.)
David Walker scored 2:44 into the period to put the Reign up 2-0, getting a good pass to the doorstep from Jon Francisco during a 5-on-4 power play. Vegas answered at 5:01 when Matt Beaudoin scored immediately off a faceoff.
The kicker? That one shot by Walker was the Reign’s only SOG all period. They were outshot 18-1 in the second period, thanks in part to three short-handed situations (including a 5-on-3) compared to two for the Wranglers.
Again, Jeff Zatkoff bails them out of a few sticky situations.
More to come following the third…
Dan Knapp gets a nice centering pass from Todd Jackson and flicks it past Wranglers goalie Martin Houle with 1:49 left at the first period. Remember this, kids: The first (regular season) goal in Inland Empire history came October 25, 2008 at 7:49 p.m.
Las Vegas did a better job controlling the puck, but the Reign did a better job putting it on net, controlling the shot count 8-7.
As for the crowd, it’s not quite the sellout the Lakers enjoyed, but they know when to cheer and when to boo, and sound good doing it.
The Reign lose, 4-1 at the Orleans Arena, but it’s not clear who suffered more in a game featuring TWENTY-NINE penalties.
Perhaps the answer is Las Vegas defenseman Gerard Miller, who was hit with a match misconduct penalty for fighting with Dusty Collins at 9:59 of the third period. It’s not clear why the match penalty was assessed on top of the 5-minute fighting major (I’ll follow up tomorrow) but regardless, it sets up a potentially heated home opener Saturday night between the same teams at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
The Reign avoided a repeat of their preseason finale Thursday, turning the tables on Las Vegas with a 4-2 victory at Orleans Arena.
Geoff Walker, Darren McMillan, Jon Francisco and Brad Mehalko scored goals for the Reign and Jeff Zatkoff stopped 28 of 30 shots.
Las Vegas beat the Reign at Center Ice Arena, 4-1 to conclude the preseason and Karl Taylor warned that the Wranglers, one of the ECHL’s best teams the past three seasons, would be a tougher test than the Bakersfield Condors – the only other team the Reign have played thus far.
The two teams get to do it again tomorrow night in Vegas; watch for backup G John Murray to get the start in place of Zatkoff with the Reign playing 3 games in as many days.
Walker is off to a nice start with two goals and five points in two games; so is Zatkoff, who is 2-0 with a 1.50 GAA two games into his pro career. And for what it’s worth (not much at this point), the Reign are in first place in the ECHL’s Pacific Division.
Jeff Zatkoff was impressive, making 13 saves, and the Reign hold on despite three short-handed situations in the final period. More to come in tomorrow’s editions.
Reign forward Geoff Walker scored on a wraparound goal with 1:18 left in the period, giving him two points (on top of his earlier assist) in his first pro game. He’s looking like a smart waiver-wire pickup for Karl Taylor. Also looks like the Reign’s power play (which has produced both goals so far) is going to be OK.
The Reign seemed to have the edge in time of possession, but it wasn’t a pretty period overall. The players finished more checks than passes and there’s not much else to report.
Blogging live from the only cold building in Bakersfield, Rabobank Arena, the first period of the Ontario Reign’s inaugural season is in the books.