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.
The only thing more perfect than the sunset over the Inland Empire on Friday was the Reign power play. The Reign (2-1) converted on all five of their power-play chances, and got goals from six different players, in a 7-1 blowout victory over the Stockton Thunder before 5,805 in Stockton Arena.
Tony Voce came off injured reserve to score two goals; Adam Henrich and Jon Rheault had a goal and two assists each; and Curtis Darling picked up his second victory of the season, stopping 30 of 31 shots. The Reign knocked out their opponent’s starting goalie for the second straight game, sending Bryan Pitton to the home bench after one period and three goals. Andrew Perugini came on to stop 10 of 14 shots over the final two periods.
The Reign also proved adept down a man, successfully killing six of seven Thunder power plays. Stockton is 0-4 to start the season after eliminating the Reign in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
Forward Greg Hogeboom scored his fourth goal of the season, and defensemen Shawn Germain and Andrew Martens scored their first for the Reign. Captain Jon Francisco added two assists, and Hogeboom, Peter Lenes, Dwight King, Tim Kraus and David Walker added one. The game also featured penalties assessed for five separate fights, two involving Reign enforcer James McEwan, and Michael Pelech, King and Walker in the others.
More details in tomorrow’s editions and, in case you missed it, here is my feature about the Reign’s captains and alternate captains this season that appeared in the paper Friday.