A third-period meltdown sent the Reign to just their third loss in the month of March.
Geoff Walker and David Walker scored first-period goals to give the Reign a 2-0 lead, but Alaska answered back with two more before the first intermission. The game stayed close through 40 minutes, but Alaska erupted for three devastating goals midway through the final period.
Gary Nunn created the first two, taking the puck nearly the length of the ice, winning a pair of battles at both ends with a burst of speed in the middle, and feeding Jason Ryznar to make it 3-2 at 9:05. He skated two-thirds the length of the ice and had Curtis Darling backpedaling when he shot it into the goalie’s chest at 12:01 of the third.
The Aces’ fifth goal was the toughest to swallow. With the Reign skating 5-on-4, Alaska cleared the puck down the ice and Darling left the crease to play it along the wall. He attempted to make an outlet pass back across the ice, where Curtis Fraser was skating straight into the puck – and scored into a wide-open net with 6:32 left in the period. (See tomorrow’s editions for Darling’s postgame comments.)
Sean O’Connor scored seconds after the power play expired, but Alaska netted an empty net goal to provide the final score.
With 68 points in the National Conference standings, the Reign (29-28-3-7) remained in eighth place, trailing both the Stockton Thunder and Las Vegas Wranglers by a point. The seven teams battling for the final six playoff positions are still separated by five points, thanks to a Utah Grizzlies victory over the Bakersfield Condors.