Looking ahead to Bakersfield.

Facing an almost impossibly large deficit in the Western Conference standings, it goes without saying that every series is crucial for the Reign. Given their head-to-head history with Bakersfield this season (the Condors have won 7 of the 9 games), it doesn’t get much bigger than three games in three days at Rabobank Arena beginning today.

“We’re in a situation where we have to win a lot of games to give ourselves a chance,” coach Karl Taylor said, “and even if we win a lot of games we might not get a chance because of the hole we dug.”

A best-case scenario sees the Reign sweep the series, pick up six points in the standings, and trail Bakersfield by only five points (51 to 46) with 18 games to play. That seems unlikely to happen. But the Condors are vulnerable, having gone 1-3-1-0 in their past five games and 4-7-1-1 in their last 13.

Victoria still holds the ever-important seventh spot in the standings with 49 points. However, they have been playing better lately, having won three in a row and six of seven. One person I spoke to over the weekend said the Reign might as well focus on overtaking Bakersfield at this point.

Can it happen? Maybe. Don’t forget that before February, a 4-2 homestand would have sounded impossible too. Yet in the span of 11 days, the Reign literally doubled their season home win total.

“Especially going down the stretch here, there are a lot of must-win games for us,” goalie Beau Erickson said. “All in all we took a huge step forward on this homestand. We’ve got a lot of momentum going down the stretch here.”

Because it’s a huge gap to make up, Taylor isn’t looking too far ahead.

“We’re focused on Friday. That’s the only thing we’re focused on,” Taylor said after the Reign’s overtime win Wednesday against Stockton. “We’ll
worry about Saturday on Saturday. That’s been our whole approach the
last little while. The guys are playing better and since we’re playing
better we’re getting better results. We’re not playing perfect, but
we’re finding ways, and that’s critical at this time of the year.”

This entry was posted in Ontario Reign/ECHL and tagged , , by J.P. Hoornstra. Bookmark the permalink.

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.
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