Stockton 4, Reign 1.

The third period doomed the Reign for the second straight night, as the red-hot Stockton Thunder rolled to their seventh straight win Saturday at Stockton Arena.

A 1-1 game was blown open on third-period goals by Craig Valette (3:08), Jesse Gimblett (4:51) and Jarrett Konkle (17:20). That spoiled the return of Mike Zacharias to the Reign, after the goalie was claimed off waivers earlier in the week.

Wearing his familiar black mask, Zacharias stopped 30 shots, but got no help from a Reign attack that was outshot 34-15.

Reign coach Karl Taylor adjusted his line combinations after Friday’s 7-2 loss, a game in which the Thunder scored four goals in the final period. Left wing Alex Bourret and center Jordan Morrison were broken up for the first time since Bourret arrived from the Asian League. Bourret skated with C.J. Stretch at center at Chaz Johnson at right wing; Morrison centered Shawn Collymore and Kyle Kraemer; and Michael Pelech centered Brett O’Malley and Aaron Lewadniuk.

Only a wrister by defenseman Luke Beaverson, at 12:53 of the first period, was able to elude Bryan Pitton (14 saves). It was the third goal of the year for Beaverson, and his first after spending almost a month on injured reserve with a lower-body ailment.

The Reign’s last big chance came with 6:15 left in a 3-1 game, when Jim McKenzie was hit with a 2-minute tripping penalty. With 38 seconds left in the power play, however, Johnson was penalized for slashing, and Lane Caffaro was whistled for high-sticking 49 seconds later. The ensuing power play led to Stockton’s fourth goal – the Thunder’s only goal in four man-advantage shifts.

The two teams meet again at CBBA on Sunday at 5 p.m.

Stockton 7, Reign 2.

Coming off their first shutout of the season, the Reign surrendered seven goals – one off their season high – and their modest four-game point streak came to an end in a flurry of fisticuffs Friday at Stockton Arena.

There were plenty of goals, but also seven fights – two by Doug Krantz (against Craig Valette and Jordan Foreman), and one each for David Walker, Aaron Lewadniuk, Michael Pelech, Luke Beaverson and Chaz Johnson. Garet Hunt and Jordan Fulton were involved in two fights each for Stockton.

Trailing 3-2 on goals by Shawn Collymore and Jordan Morrison heading into the final period, the Reign surrendered two goals in the first two minutes. Stockton scored twice more, at 12:53 and 16:34, and four fights broke out after that.

The Reign (13-23-0-2) were outshot 14-5 in the final period, which didn’t make life easy on Beau Erickson. The goalie was in net for all seven Thunder goals and stopped 24 shots. Mike Zacharias served as the backup in his return to the Reign.

The Thunder (19-11-2-4) have won six straight and are averaging 4.8 goals per game during the streak. The teams meet again tomorrow at Stockton Arena before concluding the 3-in-3 in Ontario on Sunday.

Some brief goalie notes. Update.

It’s two and a half hours before game time in Stockton, and the Reign still have three goalies. To my knowledge.

We will probably learn the fate of Alex Petizian within the next 24 hours. Mike Zacharias and Beau Erickson would seem to be the chosen tandem, and Petizian could either wind up on IR or the waiver wire come Saturday.

In the meantime, the Martin Jones bandwagon certainly seems to be gaining followers. Check out this piece on NHL.com. Jones, who began the season with the Reign and won his first professional game against the Stockton Thunder, was named to the AHL All-Star team earlier this month.

5:30 p.m. update: Petizian is going on 3-day IR, with Zacharias and Beau Erickson the active goalies tonight in Stockton. Also, James McEwan (lower-body) has been transferred to 7-day IR.

Starling: Surgery Wednesday, out 7-8 weeks.

Chad Starling will undergo surgery next Wednesday – actually two surgeries, one to repair a sports hernia and another to repair an adductor muscle – that will sideline the defenseman for 7-8 weeks from that point. The surgery will be performed by Dr. Craig Smith at the Beach District Surgery Center in Redondo Beach.

“I’m hoping I can make it back quicker,” Starling said. “I’m going to work with Bob (Reign trainer Bobby Walls). He’s a top trainer in the league.”

Recently, Starling had been aggressively rehabbing the injury off the ice with a six-week core muscle program. Those six weeks were up last week. Starling hasn’t played since Nov. 20.

A seven-week recovery period projects to March 16. The Reign begin a six-game, 10-day road trip the next day, before returning home for the final week of the regular season.

“Hopefully I’ll be back in time for playoffs,” Starling said.

Mike Zacharias returns.

One of the four goalies the Reign began the season with returned today, when Mike Zacharias was claimed off waivers a day after being let go by the Idaho Steelheads.

Zacharias, 25, went 10-6-3 with a 3.28 goals-against average and a .894 save percentage last season with the Reign. He returned for training camp, but was cut when Karl Taylor decided to go with an opening-day tandem of Kellen Briggs and Kings prospect Martin Jones.

Zacharias was traded to the Steelheads and went 7-7-2 with a 2.73 goals-against average (14th in the ECHL) and .907 save percentage. Those numbers suffered from an 0-4-3 streak dating back to Dec. 17, during which his goals-against average was 3.70.

He was deemed the odd man out when Dallas Stars goalie prospect Tyler Beskorowany was re-assigned to Idaho, a Stars affiliate. The Steelheads’ other goalie, Jase Weslosky, began the season as an emergency backup, but signed a standard contract in December and wound up playing all nine of the Steelheads’ games this month.

No corresponding transactions have been officially announced, but expect Alex Petizian to be the odd man out – whether that means a spot on IR or the waiver wire is unknown. Beau Erickson just recorded the first shutout by a Reign goalie this season on Wednesday, and is 3-0-1 with a 1.71 goals-against average in his last four starts.

Reign 1, Bakersfield 0.

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:
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Loktionov to Reign, Beaverson in, Pelech under pressure.

The Kings are expected to assign Manchester Monarchs forward Andrei Loktionov to the Reign for the purpose of bringing him to Southern California in advance of their game Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes. Neither the Kings nor the Reign have made an official announcement yet, and it’s doubtful that Loktionov will have time to suit up for the Reign’s game tonight against the Bakersfield Condors.

Even if he does play tonight, Loktionov won’t be in Ontario long. If Kings forward Wayne Simmonds, who injured his knee Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers, is healthy enough to play Thursday, Loktionov is expected to be sent back to Manchester. If Simmonds can’t play, then Loktionov will be added to the Kings’ roster. Simmonds participated in a full practice Wednesday and is “a possibility,” according to Kings coach Terry Murray.

Here’s what we know: Beau Erickson will be the starter in goal tonight against Bakersfield, defenseman Luke Beaverson will return to the Reign’s lineup for the first time since Dec. 17, and defenseman Doug Krantz will be scratched from the lineup.
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Collins to Manitoba, and other notes from practice.

For a player who spent all of last season, and most of the season before, in the American Hockey League, Dusty Collins’ time with the Reign certainly figured to be on loan.

The center officially got word Sunday that he’s heading back to the AHL with the Manitoba Moose, leaving the Reign without one of their top defensive forwards and faceoff-circle experts.

“Dusty played there for two years. They know him well. It’s not like he’s going in on a tryout — they know what they’re getting,” Reign coach Karl Taylor said.

The Moose have four games this week — Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday — all at home. It could be that the Moose merely needed an extra body and called on a familiar name, or Collins could be in Winnipeg for a longer haul. Regardless, expect him to be gone at least a week.

Plenty more from Monday’s practice in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

All six defensemen on the active roster were skating, and Luke Beaverson took part in his second full-contact practice (but the first in which he engaged in any significant contact).

Without Collins, here’s how the forwards skated:

Alex Bourret – Jordan Morrison – Shawn Collymore
Brett O’Malley – C.J. Stretch – Chaz Johnson
Justin Taylor – Michael Pelech – Aaron Lewadniuk
James McEwan – Kyle Kraemer

Bakersfield 5, Reign 4, SO.

The Reign scored four straight goals to erase a 3-0 first-period deficit, then saw the Condors force overtime and eventually win in a shootout in a rare Saturday afternoon game at Rabobank Arena.

Shawn Germain scored the go-ahead goal with 2:47 left in the third period to give the Reign a 4-3 lead. But Peter Zingoni tied the game with 46 seconds left and the Condors skating 6-on-4 with goaltender Peter Hirsch on the bench.

Bakersfield briefly thought it had the game-winning goal one minute into overtime when Adam Naglich fired a shot past Beau Erickson (36 saves), but the goal was waved off on grounds that Condors forward Pascal Morency had interfered with Erickson in the crease.

The Condors waited until the shootout to pick up the extra point, scoring on three of their first four attempts against Erickson and clinching the win when Alex Bourret’s slapshot was saved by Hirsch on the other end.

David Walker, Aaron Lewadniuk and Michael Pelech scored second-period goals to tie the game at 3. Seven different players collected assists, and Erickson made 36 saves.

More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

Reign 2, Las Vegas 1.

Dusty Collins scored his second game-winning goal in as many games this week, lifting the Reign to back-to-back wins for the first time in five weeks.

Shawn Collymore also scored for the Reign, who took advantage of a strong penalty kill (5-for-5) and a strong night in the faceoff circle to hold the Wranglers to 29 shots on goal. Beau Erickson (2-5-0) made 28 saves, including eight during a first-period two-man advantage for Las Vegas.

The Wranglers’ only goal was a short-handed marker by Greg Collins at 13:00 of the second period. Dusty Collins answered with the game-winner 37 seconds later.

More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.