Mike Zacharias summed up the collective frustration in the building by tossing his stick when the game’s final goal sailed into the Reign net.
“It’s not them scoring on our goalie, it’s them scoring on us,” David Walker said. “We all take a piece of the pie.”
But clearly the Reign need more than the tandem of Zacharias and emergency backup Dennis Cook, who can’t play unless Zacharias is hurt. That’s why Karl Taylor, who almost never names his starting goalie, named Jase Weslosky the starting goalie for Saturday night’s game against Las Vegas — and Weslosky wasn’t even in Ontario yet.
The Wranglers’ seventh goal, by Ryan Huddy, was one of only two Zacharias allowed that you would expect the goalie to make most of the time. The other five were the result of defensive-zone turnovers, missed backchecks, and odd-man rushes against — the unholy triumvirate of defensive lapses that has doomed the Reign all season.
That said, Zacharias was lucky that he didn’t give up nine goals. One shot trickled through between his legs, got behind him and was heading for the goal line before Alex Bourret (goal, assist) swept it out. Another scoring chance ended when Justin Bernhardt hit the post in front of a wide-open net from — no joke — three feet away.
Doug Krantz, Kyle Kraemer, C.J. Stretch and Bourret scored the goals; Kraemer and Bourret’s came on the power play. The Reign outshot an opponent for the second straight game (40-31) and their offense was humming so well, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect a comeback from down 6-4. That’s why Huddy’s goal, with 2:02 left, was so frustrating.
More on the Weslosky and Craig Gaudet trades in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. A few more notes/observations:
• Bourret had a goal and an assist, but would have had another if the on-ice officials didn’t overturn an apparent goal by Aaron Lewadniuk in the first period. Bourret laid a huge hit on Wranglers defenseman Kevin Schaeffer to jar the puck loose in the neutral zone, dished to a wide-open Lewadniuk, who skated in all alone on Michael Ouzas but hit the crossbar with his shot. The goal lamp went on, but the shot was ruled no goal after a long conference at the scorer’s table.
• Tim Kraus had a quiet game in his return to Ontario. The newest member of the Wranglers finished a plus-1 in limited minutes in his first game with his new team.
• Alex Morton had a quiet game, too. No points and a minus-1 rating after picking up an assist in his Reign debut (on basically no sleep).
• Krantz’s first goal of the season, at 4:52 of the first period, came with his back skate practically on the blue line. It sailed high and in through traffic and you couldn’t have wiped the smile off his face afterwards.
• With Dusty Collins on his way to Florida, C.J. Stretch moved back to his natural center position on a line with Justin Taylor and Chaz Johnson.
• Reign trainer Bobby Walls watched the game from the stands and hopes to return to work Wednesday.