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?
“I think you get some confidence,” head coach Karl Taylor said. “The guys feel better about themselves.”
“Obviously confidence brings a lot of good things to the games,” added Tim Kraus, whose current four-game point streak broke a personal drought of one point in six games.
“But I think what we’ve been working on in practice – we’ve been working on the cycle down low, and just putting in the time and getting it into everyone’s head to get the puck out of the corners, get it to the net,” Kraus continued. “Most of the time early in the year we were just stuck in the corners doing nothing and then backchecking. Lately in practice we’ve been working really hard on the cycle, getting the puck to the net. The D-men have been getting shots on net and it’s been really good.”
The Reign’s final three goals Friday came over the final 5:09, after Utah began to take more chances on defense looking for the equalizing goal. Rob Pearce, Greg Hogeboom and Tony Voce were the beneficiaries, scoring breakaway goals to turn a tight game into a 7-3 final.
“We were able to bury them with some really nice finishes,” Taylor said. “We haven’t seen many of those this year, some really nice ones.
Hogeboom has been one of the team’s most consistent scorers; after Friday’s hat trick he leads the Reign and ranks sixth in the ECHL with 28 goals on the season. He’s had help lately from Kraus and Mike Howe, who have had no trouble scoring in their four games together.
“We’ve had a couple droughts this season,” Hogeboom said. “It’s not fun when you’re in a drought. It’s kind of like a domino effect. When one guy stops scoring, or one guy has a chance and doesn’t score, you grip your stick a little tight. Right now we’re scoring goals, which is great, but it also helps Curtis. He’s lost a lot of games 2-1, 3-2, so it helps him as well.”
The Reign’s four-game winning streak is the second-longest in the league (the Trenton Devils have won five straight), and Friday’s victory allowed them to keep pace with the Las Vegas Wranglers, who beat Stockton 5-2. The Wranglers are one point ahead of the Reign for the seventh and final playoff berth in the National Conference.