Stockton 4, Reign 1, end of first period.

The Reign could probably sum it up in one word: Ugh.

The biggest surprise as the game started was the absence of Colten Teubert, who sustained an upper-body injury in Game 6 last night. Darren McMillan shifted over to partner with Chad Starling and Dan Knapp, appearing in his second game of the series, was paired with David Walker.

Stockton started the game with the most energy, but through the first 8:32 had only one shot off the crossbar, and another off the post, to show for it. Then, holding a man advantage, Robbie Bina used his speed to gain the line, then one-timed it past Jeff Zatkoff from the left circle.

The Reign thought they had the equalizer when Geoff Walker’s snapshot beat Parker Van Buskirk at 10:28, but it was waved off and Bud Holloway was ruled to have interfered prior to the shot (Then why didn’t the refs blow the play dead earlier? That was probably the question floating through a half-empty arena.)

If nothing else, the sequence energized the Reign, who dominated 4-on-5 play then got a goal from Andrew Martens at 13:05 to make it 1-1.

Where their momentum went at that point is anyone’s guess. Zatkoff got deked out of position by a charging Cory Urquhart for a goal at 14:31. Then Igor Gongalsky whipped one through from long range at 15:28. Then James Bates scored a very similar goal to Gongalsky’s on the power play at 18:46. Suddenly it was 4-1, the crowd was booing, and the second period couldn’t begin soon enough.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.