Reign 2, Bakersfield 0.

The winning streak is up to six. Tony Voce and Mike Howe scored goals, Curtis Darling had a fairly routine 20-save shutout, and a couple got married at first intermission.

“We were tired,” head coach Karl Taylor said. “I think their team was tired, as well. I think in the
first period we carried the play. We had more energy. In the middle of
the second, they pushed back, did a really good job to get some energy.
I thought in the third period they came hard. (Darling) made two or
three saves again that should have been goals. He’s in the zone right
now. He’s playing really well. He won the game in the end today.”

The six straight wins match a team record set last season. A win Friday against Las Vegas (the Wranglers are in for yet another 3-in-3 next weekend, ending the nine-game homestand) will break it.

A game between two teams desperate not to be the eighth team in a league that sends seven to the playoffs, with a franchise record winning streak on the line, should be a very good one.

More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

Reign 3, Utah 1.

The Reign won their fifth straight game, but this one was different from the first four.

Curtis Darling stopped shots on the breakaway, on rebounds – “probably two or three pucks that should have been in the net,” said Karl Taylor – en route to a 28-save victory. The Reign also snuffed out the last four Utah power plays after giving up a backdoor goal early.

This one was a defensive gem – the Reign held an opponent under 30 shots for just the third time in February. Consider that Tony Voce got off four shots short-handed all by himself.

Jon Francisco, Mike Egener and Mike Howe scored goals. Because Las Vegas lost 6-4 to Stockton on Saturday, the Reign moved up to the seventh position in the National Conference standings.

More details in tomorrow’s edition of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

So what happened to that offensive slump?

If you believe that momentum carries over from one game to the next, you’ll like this trend: During their four-game winning streak, the Reign have scored 4, 5, 6 and 7 goals, respectively. The Reign probably won’t need 8 goals to beat the Utah Grizzlies tonight, but if the trend continues, they’ll probably take it.

This offensive about-face comes on the heels of another, less desirable trend. In the six games prior to last Friday’s 4-1 win over the Idaho Steelheads, the Reign were averaging just 1.7 goals per game. The lone win in that stretch was a 5-3 victory over the Stockton Thunder; take away that game and their goals-for average was a paltry 1.0.

What has been the difference?
Continue reading

Reign 7, Utah 3.

Greg Hogeboom notched the first official regular season* hat trick at The Bank – his third three-goal game of the season – and the Reign won their fourth straight game.

“The score didn’t reflect how the game really went. It was a close game. We managed to get ahead of them in the third (period) quickly after they scored to tie it up 3-3. Four games (winning streak, we haven’t had that too often this year,” Hogeboom said.

Some other stat sheet heroes: Tim Kraus had four assists, Mike Egener had a goal and two assists, Tony Voce scored two goals, Robert Pearce had a goal, Mike Pelech had two assists. Curtis Darling stopped 28 of 31 shots and the Reign never trailed, scoring the game’s final four goals after Utah came back to tie.

More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

*Bud Holloway scored three goals April 11, 2009, in a 6-5 loss to the Stockton Thunder in Game 2 of the playoffs.

Darling ranked No. 1 in ECHL by magazine.

Just got handed the Winter 2010 issue of Goalies’ World magazine and found Curtis Darling atop their ECHL goalie rankings.

It reads: “26-year-old Curtis Darling of the Ontario Reign is the iron man of the ECHL in a close battle with David Shantz, Todd Ford and Ryan Nie for the Goalies’World number one rank. The 6 foot 2 Darling has never been drafted and he’s having his best pro season.”

Backup Mike Zacharias, for what it’s worth, checks in at number 44 in the ECHL. Former Reign goalie Jeff Zatkoff is ranked sixth in the AHL and Manchester Monarchs teammate Jonathan Bernier is number one.

Lenes, Pielmeier, etc.

In case you missed today’s story, including items on Peter Lenes and Chris Curran, click here.

Also, if you’ve been double-dipping in my Ducks blog, you will have noticed that Bakersfield Condors goaltender Timo Pielmeier is in Anaheim. The Reign host the Condors on Sunday, but Pielmeier is expected to be back by then; head coach Randy Carlyle said that Jonas Hiller is supposed to rejoin the Ducks in practice Sunday and he probably won’t need three goalies. 

Darling runner-up for goalie of the week.

Reign goaltender Curtis Darling was one of two runners-up for ECHL goaltender of the week honors, which went to Shane Connelly of the South Carolina Stingrays today. Chris Beckford-Tseu of Florida was the other runner-up.

When you look at the numbers, it seems like an easy call:

Connelly: 3 starts, 3-0-0,
0.00 GAA, 1.000 save percentage, 3 shutouts
Darling: 3 starts, 3-0-0, 2.92 GAA, .910 save percentage
Beckford-Tseu: 3 starts, 2-0-1, 2.85 GAA, .918 save percentage

Reign 6, Bakersfield 4.

The Reign came back from a 3-1 first-period deficit, and a negated goal in the third period, to beat the Pacific-Division leading Condors.

Sean O’Connor scored the game-winner with 2:41 left in the third period. Greg Hogeboom, Tony Voce, Tim Kraus and Jon Francisco also scored, and Mike Egener could have had a two-goal game if not for a disallowed goal with 12:23 left.

Goaltender Curtis Darling got his third win in as many days, stopping 19 of 23.

Robert Pearce had three assists and Michael Pelech and Mike Howe each collected a pair of assists.

More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

Reign 5, Idaho 4, OT.

Who’d have thunk it?

After losing 7-0 in Bakersfield on Sunday, the Reign went out and won back-to-back games against the Idaho Steelheads, the best team in the conference. Greg Hogeboom’s power-play goal at 3:40 of overtime sealed the victory in a game that saw the Steelheads outshoot the Reign 47-25.

Sean O’Connor’s seventh goal of the season, with 4:19 left in the third period, tied the game at 4. Peter Lenes, Robert Pearce and Jon Francisco also scored for the Reign, who are now one point behind the Las Vegas Wranglers for the final National Conference playoff berth.

Nine different Reign players had one assist, and goaltender Curtis Darling stopped 40 of 45 shots. The Reign went 2-for-4 on the power play and held Idaho to one power play goal in four man-advantage shifts.