The Reign started weakly, pushed back to forge a tie in the second period, then allowed two breakaway goals and an empty-netter in the final period to see their losing streak reach seven games.
The Aces broke a 2-2 tie with goals by Alex Dzielski and Ethan Cox, on a pair of odd-man rushes 56 seconds apart in the third period. All that did was ruin a Reign comeback from an early 2-0 deficit on second-period goals by Luke Beaverson and Matt Delahey.
Kellen Briggs made 27 saves for the Reign (2-6-1), who travel to Anchorage this week to get some revenge on the Aces (7-2-0-0).
More in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.
Scott Howes’ second-period goal, immediately following a defensive-zone giveaway by Chad Starling, was the only goal in the Reign’s sixth straight loss.
Kellen Briggs (24 saves) was great at times, but Alaska’s Gerald Coleman (27 saves) was one better.
Not much else to say about this one – but there will be plenty more in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. Forward Michael Pelech and defenseman Jordan Hill were at the game but not in uniform for the Reign and haven’t been added to the roster yet.
Jon Rheault scored twice, and Geoff Walker and Tim Kraus added one apiece, as the Reign salvaged the final game of a three-game series with the Aces. The Reign did not lead until Walker’s third-effort goal at 7:38 of the third period.
The Reign were noticeably closer to victory Friday than they were in a
6-3 loss to Alaska on Wednesday night. But as head coach Karl Taylor
noted afterwards, “there are no moral victories this time of year.”
The loss – though it was a close one – leaves the Reign two points
behind the Las Vegas Wranglers for the National Conference’s final
playoff berth, with four games left in the regular season.
Tim Kraus scored the lone goal, and Curtis Darling stopped 20 of 20
shots after Mike Zacharias allowed two goals in 18 minutes.
More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.
A third-period meltdown sent the Reign to just their third loss in the month of March.
Geoff Walker and David Walker scored first-period goals to give the Reign a 2-0 lead, but Alaska answered back with two more before the first intermission. The game stayed close through 40 minutes, but Alaska erupted for three devastating goals midway through the final period.
Gary Nunn created the first two, taking the puck nearly the length of the ice, winning a pair of battles at both ends with a burst of speed in the middle, and feeding Jason Ryznar to make it 3-2 at 9:05. He skated two-thirds the length of the ice and had Curtis Darling backpedaling when he shot it into the goalie’s chest at 12:01 of the third.
The Aces’ fifth goal was the toughest to swallow. With the Reign skating 5-on-4, Alaska cleared the puck down the ice and Darling left the crease to play it along the wall. He attempted to make an outlet pass back across the ice, where Curtis Fraser was skating straight into the puck – and scored into a wide-open net with 6:32 left in the period. (See tomorrow’s editions for Darling’s postgame comments.)
Sean O’Connor scored seconds after the power play expired, but Alaska netted an empty net goal to provide the final score.
With 68 points in the National Conference standings, the Reign (29-28-3-7) remained in eighth place, trailing both the Stockton Thunder and Las Vegas Wranglers by a point. The seven teams battling for the final six playoff positions are still separated by five points, thanks to a Utah Grizzlies victory over the Bakersfield Condors.
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: The Reign won in a shootout Saturday, as Mike Zacharias came on in relief of Curtis Darling to get the win and get the Reign a much-needed two points.
It’s a formula that the Reign have employed three times in the last five games and it worked again to clinch victory against the Alaska Aces. Jon Rheault scored all three Reign goals in regulation, and Michael Pelech and Chad Starling scored in the shootout.
Darling stopped 25 of 28 shots over 65 minutes before giving way to Zacharias, who stopped four of the five shooters in the shootout. Mike Egener had two assists as the Reign converted both of their power-play opportunities.
The Reign took four of a possible six points in the Alaska series, turning the standings into a real rat race: seven teams are separated by seven points in the battle for six playoff spots. With the win, the Reign moved a point ahead of the Utah Grizzlies into the seventh and final playoff position.
The Reign are now 9-1-0-2 in their past 12 games.
The streak is over.
By losing 2-0 to the Alaska Aces on Friday night, the Reign failed to gain a point in the standings for the first time since Feb. 14, a span of 10 games. They also failed to take advantage of the Utah Grizzlies’ 5-2 victory over the Stockton Thunder, which would have allowed the Reign out of the Pacific Division cellar with a victory.
Instead, the Reign (26-26-3-6) are a point back of Stockton (27-24-2-6) and tied with Utah (27-25-2-5) at 61 points in the standings. By virtue of the Grizzlies’ better winning percentage (.517 to .500), they would get the National Conference’s final playoff berth if the season ended today.
Curtis Darling stopped 27 of 28 shots, allowing only a power-play goal to Eric Boguniecki at 13:22 of the third period. Darling had been pulled for an extra attacker when Alaska was credited with a goal with 1:47 left in the third period, when Reign defenseman Mike Egener hit Brock McBride as McBride attempted to score into the empty net.
Aces goaltender Scott Reid foiled all 24 shots by the Reign, who will attempt to pick up two points when the teams meet again at 8:15 p.m. Saturday.
There was plenty of ECHL news coming out of Alaska today, but not from the visitor’s locker room.
Reign head coach Karl Taylor did not make any roster moves prior to the ECHL trade deadline at noon. That means, as unlikely as it might have seemed as little as three weeks ago, nobody’s getting traded. Any roster change for the Reign will result from injuries, AHL call-ups, amateur or free-agent signings, or junior players being assigned by the Kings.
Any player who signs a pro contract must appear in at least five regular-season games to be included on the Reign’s playoff roster. Amateurs aren’t bound by the same rule.
The Alaska Aces made one deadline deal in advance of tonight’s game against the Reign, trading defenseman Derick Martin to the Elmira Jackals for left wing Jarret Konkle.
The Aces also made headlines in the Anchorage Daily News by announcing they will be forced to host games 40 miles away from their home arena in first round of the playoffs. A look at the ECHL standings reveals that this isn’t likely to impact the Reign, who are probably in the running for one of the National Conference’s final three playoff positions along with the Aces.
Also worth noting: The AHL’s Manchester Monarchs were left down a goalie for tonight’s game when Jonathan Bernier was recalled by the Kings. But the Monarchs signed former Bakersfield Condors goaltender Josh Johnson – and neither of the Reign’s two goalies – to back up Jeff Zatkoff.
The final score didn’t reflect the intensity of a game the Reign easily could have lost.
They trailed 2-0 after seven minutes. They gave up seven power plays to the Aces, including a 5-minute long 5-on-4 shift in the third.
But never has their defense looked more suffocating; the Reign only allowed 22 shots the entire game, didn’t allow a power-play goal, and came back to win 5-2.
Officially, Michael Pelech was credited with his first two-goal game as a professional. The second came out of a three-player scrum in front of the net, and Pelech insists that Greg Hogeboom touched it last, but the official scorer gave it to Pelech upon further review. Sean O’Connor, Shawn Germain and Tim Kraus scored the others — the final two landing in an empty net in the last minute.
Curtis Darling got his second start in as many nights and stopped 20 of 22.
More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.
Mike Howe and Greg Hogeboom staked the Reign to a 2-0 lead after 23 minutes, but that evaporated along with the Reign’s two-game losing winning streak.
Nick Mazzolini scored with 1:23 left in the third period to force overtime, where the Reign had their chances but failed to convert.
In the shootout, Alaska’s first three shooters scored on Curtis Darling (32 saves) but Tony Voce and Sean O’Connor scored on the other end for the Reign. The final shooter, Chad Starling, hit the post on the final shot of the game — one of many in the game.
More details in tomorrow’s editions and check back here tomorrow for postgame reaction. The same two teams square off in 24 hours at The Bank.