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.