Reign 4, Alaska 3, shootout.

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.

Reign 5, Alaska 4, shootout.

Another lost lead, another shootout, and another Mike Zacharias special delivery – at least the Reign found a way to win on the road.

The Alaska Aces erased a 3-1 deficit with three third-period goals to take a 4-3 lead, before a goal by Michael Pelech with 1:35 left in regulation sent the game to overtime, and eventually a shootout. Once again, Karl Taylor pulled Curtis Darling in favor of Mike Zacharias and once again, Zacharias delivered. He stopped four of the five Aces shooters, allowing goals by Pelech and Chad Starling to hold up on the other end, with Starling’s proving to be the winner.

It was the fourth straight shootout for the Reign; they have won two and lost two. In three straight shootout performances, Zacharias has only allowed two goals.

Pelech had a huge game, collecting two assists in addition to his goals in regulation and the shootout. Mike Egener kicked off the scoring at 4:39 of the first period, Sean O’Connor made it 2-0 just 62 seconds later with his 12th goal of the season, and Egener’s ninth goal of the season with 34 seconds left in the second period made it 3-1.

Alaska began its comeback with a short-handed goal by Scott Burt at 2:20 of the third period, and even-strength goals by Merit Waldrop and Eric Boguniecki made it 4-3.

Jon Rheault picked up two more assists, giving him five (along with two goals) in four games since his return from the AHL. Geoff Walker and Andrew Martens also had assists for the Reign.

Egener has seven goals and seven assists (and 32 penalty minutes) in his last 12 games for the Reign. Ontario finished 2-for-6 on the power play and held Alaska to one goal in eight man-advantage shifts, but failed to convert a 43-second long 5-on-3 advantage late in the first period.

Here’s what the conference standings
look like; the Reign gained a valuable two points on the Utah
Grizzlies, who did not play last night. They’re now tied with Las Vegas
for the sixth/seventh spot, but Alaska’s point in the standings moves
them into a tie for fourth/fifth with Stockton.

The three-game series resumes at 8:15 p.m. Friday.

ECHL fines Las Vegas for water-bottle incident.

The ECHL has decided to fine Las Vegas an undisclosed amount of money for actions related to the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty it received in the third period of Friday’s game at The Bank.

With 4:15 left in the game, Mike Egener delivered a hard hit to the Wranglers’ Mick Lawrence near the Vegas bench. Ned Lukacevic was demonstrably upset, grabbed a water bottle, and tossed it over two plexiglass partitions and onto the Reign bench.

Las Vegas 7, Reign 6, shootout.

This game could be summed up in one word: Crazy.

It ended in the 12th round of the shootout when Jerry Pollastrone scored on Curtis Darling, and Tony Voce missed on the other end, ending the Reign’s team-record-tying win streak at six.

The Reign gained a point in the standings but gave up two, leaving both teams tied for the seventh and final playoff position in the National Conference standings. Technically, the Wranglers are in seventh place by virtue of the higher winning percentage.

It was only possible because of Vegas’ four goals in the third period, which negated a 5-2 lead by the Reign and sent the game to overtime.

Continue reading

Reign 3, Utah 1.

The Reign won their fifth straight game, but this one was different from the first four.

Curtis Darling stopped shots on the breakaway, on rebounds – “probably two or three pucks that should have been in the net,” said Karl Taylor – en route to a 28-save victory. The Reign also snuffed out the last four Utah power plays after giving up a backdoor goal early.

This one was a defensive gem – the Reign held an opponent under 30 shots for just the third time in February. Consider that Tony Voce got off four shots short-handed all by himself.

Jon Francisco, Mike Egener and Mike Howe scored goals. Because Las Vegas lost 6-4 to Stockton on Saturday, the Reign moved up to the seventh position in the National Conference standings.

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

Reign 7, Utah 3.

Greg Hogeboom notched the first official regular season* hat trick at The Bank – his third three-goal game of the season – and the Reign won their fourth straight game.

“The score didn’t reflect how the game really went. It was a close game. We managed to get ahead of them in the third (period) quickly after they scored to tie it up 3-3. Four games (winning streak, we haven’t had that too often this year,” Hogeboom said.

Some other stat sheet heroes: Tim Kraus had four assists, Mike Egener had a goal and two assists, Tony Voce scored two goals, Robert Pearce had a goal, Mike Pelech had two assists. Curtis Darling stopped 28 of 31 shots and the Reign never trailed, scoring the game’s final four goals after Utah came back to tie.

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

*Bud Holloway scored three goals April 11, 2009, in a 6-5 loss to the Stockton Thunder in Game 2 of the playoffs.

Reign 6, Bakersfield 4.

The Reign came back from a 3-1 first-period deficit, and a negated goal in the third period, to beat the Pacific-Division leading Condors.

Sean O’Connor scored the game-winner with 2:41 left in the third period. Greg Hogeboom, Tony Voce, Tim Kraus and Jon Francisco also scored, and Mike Egener could have had a two-goal game if not for a disallowed goal with 12:23 left.

Goaltender Curtis Darling got his third win in as many days, stopping 19 of 23.

Robert Pearce had three assists and Michael Pelech and Mike Howe each collected a pair of assists.

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

Stockton 3, Reign 2.

If you’ve seen the Reign play recently, neither the game nor the result were out of the ordinary – a few too many pucks off the post, a few too many scoring chances on the other end (they were outshot 31-27) and, at the end, a loss – their fourth in five games.

Karl Taylor said afterwards he felt the team deserved better, and the law of averages says the Reign probably should have more than one win to show for their last five games. It won’t get any easier tomorrow with a 2 p.m. date in Bakersfield. In fact, the team boarded a bus immediately after the game to head north.

Taylor tried some creative things – he pulled Darling with seven minutes left to create a 6-on-4 power play, and it worked when Mike Egener scored 12 seconds later. He also shifted Tim Kraus to right wing on the second power-play unit, and that worked too – the natural center scored to break a four-game drought in the third period.

But for most part it was another offensively frustrating effort. More details – including an update on defenseman Shawn Germain, who did not play – in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.

Costly fight for McEwan.

Reign forward James McEwan landed on 21-day injured reserve today, a result of the hand injury he sustained in Saturday’s first-period fight with Stockton’s Garet Hunt. McEwan left the rink after the fight and was taken to a hospital. He’s out of the hospital but did not practice with the team on Monday.


The news was better for defenseman Mike Egener, who did take part in practice and is hopeful to return this weekend after missing Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury.
More news and notes in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin…