Reign 4, Idaho 3.

The Reign’s 3-2 deficit in third period wasn’t too much to overcome on Wednesday, and they can only hope their six-point deficit in the standings isn’t too large, either.

Clearly, the Reign are a team in the mood for comebacks. Jordan Morrison’s goal with 4:50 left in the third period, and an overtime goal by Kyle Kraemer, lifted them to a 4-3 win over Idaho before an announced crowd of 6,644 at CBBA. Mike Zacharias (10-11-3-3) stopped 36 of 39 shots to win his second straight start.

Kraemer also scored a power-play goal in the first period and Justin Taylor scored at 7:25 of the second to give the Reign a 2-0 lead. Idaho went ahead on unanswered goals by Cody Purves, Mark Derlago and Junior Lessard.

The Reign went 2-for-3 on the power play and also killed off a pair of third-period power plays after Purves scored on the Steelheads’ first man-advantage shift of the game.

The Victoria Salmon Kings (24-27-1-2, 51 points) still hold the seventh and final playoff position in the Western Conference, six points ahead of the Reign (20-30-2-3, 45 points). The Salmon Kings have one game in hand, but the pressure is on them now to beat Utah in their next game Friday.

A few more notes:
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Some random off-day updates.

The Reign didn’t practice Monday, probably a wise decision after a stretch of three games in three days in Bakersfield that saw its share of injuries and illness sweep through the team.

For tomorrow’s notebook Jordan Morrison discussed his recent hot streak – 14 points in his last nine games, and 29 points in his last 29. He’s a natural center and simply wasn’t as comfortable playing the wing; he believes switching back to the middle was the key to his turnaround.

That raised an interesting point: There are a lot of natural centers on this team who have played a ton of wing this season. Aaron Lewadniuk, C.J. Stretch, Justin Taylor, Brett O’Malley and Michael Pelech come to mind. Shawn Collymore has basically split the season at center and left wing and it hasn’t seemed to affect his production. Other natural centers have filtered through the roster – Jon Francisco, Tim Kraus, Pierre-Andre Bureau, Luke Popko – and probably all of them had to shift over at some point. Dusty Collins may be the only natural center who never seems to move.

That might help explain why the team has been better at faceoffs this season. At the same time, Morrison acknowledged that switching from center to wing isn’t necessarily easy, especially for a rookie transitioning from junior to pro.

More on that in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin. A few more tidbits from my interview this morning with Karl Taylor:
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Reign 4, Bakersfield 2.

Playing their third game in three days, the Reign turned in their only win of the weekend in Bakersfield.

Aaron Lewadniuk, Shawn Germain, David Walker and Chaz Johnson scored goals on Josh Tordjman (20 saves), and Reign goalie Mike Zacharias stopped 49 shots to match Beau Erickson’s season-high total from two days earlier.

Jordan Morrison had three assists, including pretty feeds to set up Johnson and Germain on the breakaway. Justin Taylor had a pair of assists, and Kyle Kraemer and Michael Pelech had one helper each.

Playing his first game of the weekend, Zacharias succeeded against the same barrage of shots that Erickson saw Friday and Saturday. The Condors had their share of odd-man rushes (while also surrendering a few to the Reign), but Zacharias didn’t seem to face the same amount of net-front pressure that kept Erickson from seeing the puck in a 7-3 loss the night before.

Considering Bakersfield registered 157 shots on goal this weekend, the Reign were lucky to escape with three points. By going 1-1-1, the Reign (19-30-2-3, 43 points) lost a
point in the standings to sixth-place Bakersfield (26-24-2-1, 55 points)
but gained a point on seventh-place Victoria (24-27-1-2, 51 points).

The Salmon Kings were shut out 4-0 in Stockton on Sunday.

A few more notes:
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Bakersfield 7, Reign 3.

The Reign suffered their most lopsided loss in the last eight games, temporarily halting their momentum and dashing any plans of quickly gaining ground in the Western Conference standings.

The game slipped gradually away after goals by Luke Beaverson and Jordan Morrison 18 seconds apart gave the Reign a 2-1 lead at 2:48 of the second period. Beaverson’s goal, helped by a net-front screen by C.J. Stretch, avenged Pascal Morency’s first-period putback for Bakersfield.

Morrison completed a 2-on-1 breakaway thanks to a great cross pass from Chaz Johnson, with Doug Krantz picking up the second assist.

The rest was (almost) all Condors, who scored six unanswered goals to send the Reign to their ninth loss in 11 head-to-head meetings this season. Morency and Guillaume Levebvre scored two goals apiece, and linemate Brad Snetsinger finished with three assists. Three others scored one goal apiece.

Shawn Collymore completed the scoring with a quick wrist shot past Brian Stewart (27 saves) with 34 seconds left, his team-leading 17th goal of the season.

Beau Erickson was the hard-luck loser. He had to face a season-high 53 shots for the second straight night, finishing with 46 saves.

The two teams play again at 6 p.m. Sunday in Bakersfield.

Elmira 3, Reign 1.

All good things – like winning streaks and interconference series – must come to an end.

Clearly tired at the end of their third game in three nights, and fourth in five days, the Reign sputtered to a 3-1 loss in their series finale against Elmira. The Reign started strong but managed just four shots in the third period and couldn’t convert on the power play after the first period.

The Jackals halted their four-game losing streak on the strength of two goals by Jason Bailey and another by Patrick Coulombe, who potted the game-winner during a 4-on-3 power play with 1:43 left in the third period. Bailey’s goal into an empty net with 3.2 seconds left completed the scoring.

Chaz Johnson scored the Reign’s only goal by deflecting a point shot by David Walker past TImo Pielmeier at 8:58 of the first period.

Mike Zacharias stopped 32 in one of those puzzling games for a goalie. Two fairly straightforward shots, by Bailey in the first period and Coulombe in the third, got past him. The rest of the game, facing one breakaway after another, he was perfect – strong positionally and when he needed to move laterally in the crease.

More details in tomorrow’s editions.
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Reign 6, Elmira 5, OT.

Alex Bourret’s goal with 1:04 left in overtime gave the Reign something they’ve been waiting a long time for: Back-to-back wins at home.

Jordan Morrison completed a four-point game by corralling the rebound of a David Walker shot behind the net, then spotting Bourret streaking through the right faceoff circle for the game-winner.

That capped an impressive comeback by the Reign (17-28-2-2), who had trailed Elmira by scores of 3-0, 4-1 and 5-3. Morrison, Chaz Johnson, Shawn Collymore and Kyle Kraemer also scored goals. Johnson finished plus-3 and was on the ice for all but one of the Reign’s goals.

The six-goal outburst matched a season high, and the win brought them within seven points of seventh-place Victoria (21-25-1-2) in the Western Conference standings.

Beau Erickson was fighting the puck early, but benefited from some third-period adjustments that allowed the Reign to spend more time in the offensive zone and outshoot Elmira 10-7. Erickson finished with 27 saves.

Timo Pielmeier (22 saves) started the week as the Ducks’ backup goalie, but finished on the losing end of his first game with the Jackals.

Because I didn’t mention it in the paper: The Reign were sporting vintage Forum-blue-and-gold Kings jerseys, with a crown on the front of the sweater and the Reign logo on the shoulder patch. They looked sharp.

Because they were auctioned off after the game, they won’t be worn again. And because they play in the Eastern Conference, Elmira won’t be back this season after tomorrow.

The Reign would probably like to see both the jerseys and the Jackals back.

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

Reign 5, Elmira 4, SO.

Can the Jackals visit the Inland Empire more than one weekend a year?

The first-ever interconference game at CBBA, a true contrast in coaching philosophies and playing styles, needed the shootout to determine a winner. It resulted in a badly needed two points for the Reign, who kept pace with the victorious Victoria Salmon Kings (2-0 over Las Vegas) to remain nine points out of seventh place.

After Andrew Sweetland’s forehand wrister beat Beau Erickson in the second round, Jordan Morrison answered on the next shot by waiting out Garrett Zemlak with a high forehand wrister. In the fifth and final round, Justin Taylor reached around Zemlak’s back leg to put the Reign ahead for good. Erickson denied A.J. Perry on the other end to seal the win – the Reign’s second in the shootout this season.

Chaz Johnson scored two goals against the team he played for from 2007-10, Shawn Collymore scored a pair of goals, and Morrison added three assists.

It was a gutsy performance from Taylor, who didn’t play the entire second period after being leveled to the ice on a clean shoulder-to-shoulder check into the boards late in the first. He looked especially slow on his skates in the third period compared to a fast, fast Elmira team, but speed was not needed in the shootout. Just the long reach.

More game details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Bulletin. A few more notes:
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Reign 4, Bakersfield 3.

The Reign won at home, and it was really no secret why. Between the three teeth Brett O’Malley left on the ice, a long and courageous fight by David Walker late in the third period, and plenty of blocked shots along the way, the effort was apparent all over the ice.

“We need to have that effort,” coach Karl Taylor said. “That extra 5, 10 percent was there tonight. I thought Bako played well. It was an entertaining game. That’s what it’s all about. There was a lot of sacrifice on the ice by the guys tonight.”

Jordan Morrison’s second-chance goal waith 8:32 left in the third period ended up being the game-winner. The Reign outshot the Condors 39-32, killed all three Bakersfield penalties, and got a solid 29-save performance from Mike Zacharias.

Morrison, Chaz Johnson and Alex Bourret each had a goal and an assist, Shawn Collymore had a pair of assists and Kyle Kraemer scored his second goal in as many games.

A few more notes that didn’t make tomorrow’s story:
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Reign 4, Utah 3, OT.

The Reign managed to take three of a possible six points from the Grizzlies, the first-place team in the other (Mountain) Division, on the strength of a Pat Bowen point shot that got through at 2:03 of overtime.

The Mountain trip isn’t over yet – its fourth and final game awaits tomorrow night against the Idaho Steelheads – but it’s off to a decent 1-1-1 start. The win allowed the Reign (14-26-1-2) to keep pace with the Victoria Salmon Kings (18-24-1-2) and remain eight points out of the seventh and final Western Conference playoff position with two games in hand.

And in the midst of an impossibly lousy season at home, it’s no small feat that the Reign are now 10-11-1-1 on the road. They can pull to .500 away from CBBA (ignoring the OT/SO columns) with a win in Boise.

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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.