The Reign waited 37 games to record their first shutout of the season, and goalie Beau Erickson – a witness to the frustration since Week 2 – literally jumped off the ice to celebrate the occasion.
“It was a long time coming,” he said. “I didn’t make a whole lot of difficult saves … maybe two or three tough saves tonight. I got a little help. They hit the post a couple times tonight.”
By itself, it was a fairly routine 27-save shutout for Erickson, backed by a second-period wraparound goal by Michael Pelech.
But in contrast to the rest of the season, it looked like a turning point for a defense that had only recently begun to jell. The outlet passes were closer to the tape of teammates’ sticks. Shooting lanes and passing lanes were clogged. There was more function than dysfunction.
Bakersfield (20-17-1-0) clogged its share of shooting and passing lanes too, at times frustrating the Reign despite a respectable 25-shot offensive effort. Pelech’s second-period wraparound on Brian Stewart was the game’s only goal.
It was somewhat typical of a win from Year 1 in these parts – outshot, and at times outchanced, but the Reign had slightly better goaltending and defense.
Plenty more from Erickson, Pelech and coach Karl Taylor in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. A few more notes:
• Luke Beaverson took the place of Doug Krantz and saw time both 5-on-5 and on the penalty kill.
• No Andrei Loktionov sightings, as expected.
• It seemed like Alex Bourret, Shawn Collymore and Jordan Morrison enjoyed the most offensive-zone time of any of the Reign’s three lines, but their combined shots on goal (four) were surprisingly low. The best line, in terms of putting shots on net, was that of C.J. Stretch (1), Chaz Johnson (6) and Kyle Kraemer (4), with 11 of the Reign’s 25. Some of those came on the power play, but Taylor didn’t break them up too much on the PP.
• David Walker and Lane Caffaro both clanged shots off the inside of posts; Caffaro’s shot actually set off the lamp in the first period after coming awfully close to crossing the goal line. However, the on-ice officials were in agreement that the puck didn’t cross the line and didn’t confer after the play.
• The Reign leave tomorrow afternoon for games Friday and Saturday in Stockton, before returning to complete a rare four-game week at home on Sunday.