Utah 5, Reign 1.

Make it six straight losses, 15 in 17 home games, and and an even bigger deficit in the Western Conference basement for the Reign.

The season isn’t halfway over, but eighth-place Ontario (10-22-0-1, 21 points) is already 27 points behind first-place Utah (22-10-3-1, 48 points). It was said here before the Christmas holiday break that a strong comeback following the week off was needed to entertain thoughts of saving the season. The Reign came back recharged to win their next two, but have since lost six straight. Mathematically, their hole isn’t impossible to overcome to make the playoffs, but the fact that mathematics would enter the conversation when the season isn’t halfway over yet speaks volumes.

The signs of progress, relative to a respectable effort Friday, were exiguous. The Reign started strong, outshooting Utah 13-5 at one point in the first period, and maintained a hard checking game for 60 minutes even though there were no fights. (Credit the officiating crew for stepping in quickly on a couple occasions.) The Reign’s 29 shots on goal more than doubled yesterday’s total, and it’s clear the team isn’t hesitant to shoot anymore. That message got through loud and clear.

But there was a stark disparity in the special teams. The Reign converted 1 of 6 power plays; the Grizzlies converted 3 of 7. Two Reign PPs ended when they were whistled for offensive-zone penalties, which speaks to a lack of discipline.

Alex Petizian made his Reign debut and stopped 30 of 35. Shawn Collymore scored the Reign’s lone goal off a costly Utah turnover. Utah’s Simon Ferguson came back from a pair of injuries to his face – including one late in the second period that drew blood and forced him off the ice – to record a hat trick.

Plenty more in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. No updates on Jeff Corey, other than that he is still listed on the roster so it’s a safe bet he hasn’t officially signed in Europe.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.