Las Vegas 2, Reign 1.

The Reign’s second season of existence will not end in the playoffs.

Michael Pelech scored the lone goal and Curtis Darling stopped 32 of 34 shots, but the Reign were out of it even before the final horn sounded. That’s because the Victoria Salmon Kings – whom the Reign needed to lose tonight and tomorrow – demolished the Utah Grizzlies, 9-2.

The visitor’s locker room at Orleans Arena had to be the quietest place in Las Vegas afterwards. The Reign were at a loss for words; both their coach and their captain have never played a “meaningless” regular season game – one that did not have any possible bearing on the postseason.

Francisco and Sean O’Connor – who along with Mike Egener was fined today by the ECHL – were bravely loquacious after the loss. Check out tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin for their comments as well as those of Karl Taylor.

As for the game, the final score could have been far better or far worse for the Reign, depending on your point of view.

At one point late in the second period they had been outshot 22-9, but managed to keep the Vegas lead to 2-0. A third-period goal by Tony Voce that could have cut the Wranglers’ lead in half was disallowed and Pelech’s goal minutes later – which went into the net off a Vegas player – could have tied the game at 2.

So in a season full of what-ifs and narrow defeats – the Reign have played 32 one-goal games and won only 11 – Friday’s elimination game fit in perfectly with the narrative.

One more note on O’Connor: he said he wasn’t aware of the fine until a teammate read about it on the internet. He did not know what prompted it.

  • Crossbar

    Now that the Reign’s playoff run has come to an end, I thought it might be worthwhile to throw out a few stats to chew on during the offseason.
    In comparing the performance of this year’s squad with last year’s, several things immediately stand out. First, we had five shootout losses at home this year versus none last year. Five points lost in a season where, at one time, that same margin was the difference between last place and second or third place in the conference; our performance on the road yielded 40% fewer points than last year (10-21-2-2=24 pts this year versus 18-15-2-2=40 pts in 08/09); the goal differential (GF-GA), while better at home this season (+23 versus +1 last year), declined by 100% on the road (92 GF-114 GA=-22 in ’08/’09 compared to 84 GF-128 GA=-44 this year); the powerplay, though it improved in efficiency this year (18.7% versus 17.4%), had 40 fewer opportunities this year (409 advantages in 08/09 compared with 369 PP opps this year); and with respect to penalty killing, the team’s performance regressed a bit–80.4% success rate this year vs 82.7% in 08/09, with the number of short-handed situations rising from 371 last year to 392 this year, and the number of PP goals allowed increasing from 64 last year to 77 this year. And last but not least, with just one game left to play, Ontario once again has the distinction of having scored the fewest goals in the ECHL.

    What can be gleaned from all this data, and how might it help us next season? First, we’ll need to find a way to avoid the 3rd period collapses that plagued us this year. And if we can’t win in regulation, then we’ll have to be more successful when it comes to shootouts, particularly at home. Next, we must perform better on the road. Anyone familiar with the team’s situation knows what a huge difference even a couple of those 16 fewer points garnered away from home could have made in the standings. And while our powerplay became slightly more efficient, it had 40 fewer opportunities compared to 08/09, which, statistically, translates into an additional 7 goals on the season. When you consider that 21 of this year’s 41 losses were decided by just one goal, it’s not a number easily dismissed.

    Finally, in a year that witnessed more drama surrounding a single sweater number (#25) than I’ve seen in quite awhile, fans may be surprised to find that many familiar faces will have moved on when the 2010/2011 squad is introduced next fall. This team is in desperate need of offense, and I suspect that, as the fan base becomes more sophisticated and expectations continue to rise, management will be looking for ways to substantially impove the product out on the ice, while at the same time keeping a close eye on the bottom line.

    It’s been an interesting 2009/2010 season–one filled with promise, exciting streaks, and admittedly, great disappointment. But as they say, “Hope springs eternal.” We’ll see ya’ll in the fall.

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