Not to rub salt in an open wound, but I just realized that quite a bit of last night’s game story was left out of the newspaper story due to space constraints.
Here’s how the story I filed ended …
The Reign (30-31-3-7) seemed sluggish at the start before 4,209 at Orleans Arena, allowing two goals in the first period while being outshot 13-3.
Ryan Weston buried the first, a hard one-timer from the edge of the right faceoff circle that eluded Curtis Darling at the 1:50 mark. The Reign didn’t put a shot on Wranglers goalie Joel Gistedt until Jon Rheault fired a wrister at 5:10 of the first period.
Las Vegas increased its lead at 18:03, when Barry Goers tapped in a loose puck sitting in the crease.
Down 2-0, the Reign did not seem to develop a sense of urgency until midway through the second period. They got the benefit of a whistle at 14:44, when a Las Vegas goal was waved off moments after Mick Lawrence was penalized for interference.
But Vegas got the call back when an apparent Reign goal was waved off eight minutes into the third period. Winger Tony Voce lifted his stick high in the air to bat down a puck hovering above the Wranglers’ crossbar. Although he appeared to miss the puck entirely – it crossed over the goal line on its own merit – the nearest official quickly signaled no goal.
Michael Pelech finally got the Reign on the board with a fluke goal at 9:59, throwing the puck in from behind the net, and getting credit for a goal when it deflected in off a Las Vegas player.
But they could not add to their lead with Darling pulled for an extra attacker for the final minute.
Reign captain Jon Francisco knew going into the third period that the Salmon Kings were well on their way to a blowout, but kept it to himself.
“You just try to go out there and be a professional, be a pro and play as hard as you can until the final buzzer because you never know when you’re going to wear that jersey again,” the eight-year veteran said.
Now, Francisco and his teammates will have to carry the same attitude into today’s game. It’s the first time that both he and Taylor will participate in what amounts to a “meaningless” hockey game.
For Francisco, it’s not hard to find meaning.
“I’ve had that experience of not playing again,” he said. “I took a year off (2007-08) and wasn’t planning on coming back, so I know what it’s like to not put on the jersey, not skate and not hang out in the locker room with the boys.
“That’s what hurts the most right now: Knowing that tomorrow is the last time we’re going to be together as a group.”