Surprise starter Mike Zacharias gave up goals on the first two shots he faced, and the Reign never caught up to Las Vegas in their first game in a week.
Neither team had played since they squared off against each other seven days earlier at Orleans Arena, but Zacharias was the rustiest man on the ice. He had not played since posting the win Dec. 6 against Victoria, a span of 20 days, and allowed goals to Kyle Hagel and Francis Lemieux in a span of 3:58 to start the game.
The Reign settled down considerably after that, and finished with a 34-23 advantage in shots on goal. Jon Francisco scored his fifth goal of the season, the Reign’s lone power-play goal in seven chances, at 4:45 of the second period to make it 2-1.
Mick Lawrence answered at 7:14, sending a blistering slapshot in the slot past Zacharias to push the lead back to 3-1. But the Reign took a 3-2 deficit into the third period after Francisco fed Robert Pearce for a breakaway goal at 8:53.
Lemieux, playing his first season in the ECHL after four years spent in the AHL, got his second goal of the game with 2:29 left in the third. Zacharias was pulled for the extra attacker late, but had to go back in when Pearce crashed into Las Vegas goalie Michael Ouzas (32 saves) with 50 seconds left.
Goaltender Curtis Darling wasn’t on the bench tonight; Dennis Cook served as the emergency backup. We’ll see what the situation looks like tomorrow when the Reign host the Bakersfield Condors at 5 p.m. at The Bank.