Mike Howe said he is “not 100 percent for sure” retired, “but I’m starting to move on.”
Not in a literal sense. The native of Oakdale, Minnesota isn’t going anywhere for the moment, living in Ontario and enrolling in EMT school to become a firefighter.
“I played out here two years and (my wife and I) are addicted,” he said. “We love it out here.”
The Reign allowed three power-play goals and had to kill 10 penalties at all, turning a close contest into a futile game of catch-up in the third period.
The standings picture is bleak. Not only will the Reign have to win their final two games, but they’ll need the Utah Grizzlies to win both of their final two games in Victoria and at least one win must be in regulation.
Otherwise, the Reign will be the only team in an eight-team conference to miss the postseason.
The winning streak is up to six. Tony Voce and Mike Howe scored goals, Curtis Darling had a fairly routine 20-save shutout, and a couple got married at first intermission.
“We were tired,” head coach Karl Taylor said. “I think their team was tired, as well. I think in the
first period we carried the play. We had more energy. In the middle of
the second, they pushed back, did a really good job to get some energy.
I thought in the third period they came hard. (Darling) made two or
three saves again that should have been goals. He’s in the zone right
now. He’s playing really well. He won the game in the end today.”
The six straight wins match a team record set last season. A win Friday against Las Vegas (the Wranglers are in for yet another 3-in-3 next weekend, ending the nine-game homestand) will break it.
A game between two teams desperate not to be the eighth team in a league that sends seven to the playoffs, with a franchise record winning streak on the line, should be a very good one.
More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Daily Bulletin.
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.
If you believe that momentum carries over from one game to the next, you’ll like this trend: During their four-game winning streak, the Reign have scored 4, 5, 6 and 7 goals, respectively. The Reign probably won’t need 8 goals to beat the Utah Grizzlies tonight, but if the trend continues, they’ll probably take it.
This offensive about-face comes on the heels of another, less desirable trend. In the six games prior to last Friday’s 4-1 win over the Idaho Steelheads, the Reign were averaging just 1.7 goals per game. The lone win in that stretch was a 5-3 victory over the Stockton Thunder; take away that game and their goals-for average was a paltry 1.0.
What has been the difference?
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.
The Reign played the mirror opposite of Saturday’s effort — taking a 2-0 lead in the first period, then allowing five unanswered, including two in the final two minutes.
Dan Knapp scored his first goal of the year, and Robert Pearce was credited with his fourth of the season when Idaho defenseman Brendan Milnamow scored into his own net, to give the Reign the early cushion.
But Idaho fought back with a hard-luck goal with 1.8 seconds left in the middle period, when Evan Barlow fired a slapshot past a stickless Mike Howe to give the Steelheads their first goal.
Idaho added goals in the third period by Mark McCutcheon, Barlow, Mark Derlago and an empty-netter by McCutcheon, when the Reign were outshot 15-3.
More details in tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Bulletin.
The consensus opinion (both Karl Taylor and Jon Francisco volunteered it after the game) was that the Reign were lucky to get a point Friday. Even though they led the Alaska Aces for all but the game’s final 6:23, the 0-for-8 power play success rate stuck out like a sore thumb.
Speaking of the power play, Francisco said that “we’re working on some new stuff. It’s coming around. We’re getting shots to the net. I had two backdoor chances that I didn’t bury. That’s on me — I know that. I’ll be better tomorrow.”
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.
Mike Zacharias and Tony Voce haven’t done much for the Ontario Reign lately.
Yet each was instrumental in the Reign’s win at the E-Center, which ended a four-game losing streak for the Reign and set up a rubber match Monday night in West Valley City.
Making his first start since Dec. 26, Zacharias stopped 28 of 31, while Voce scored twice, his first goals since Dec. 27. Jon Francisco added two assists, and Chris Curran, Mike Howe and Greg Hogeboom also scored for the Reign (15-20-3-3).
Curran scored short-handed 1:44 into the game, but Utah (18-17-2-2) answered with goals by all-stars Ryan Kinasewich and A.J. Perry in the second. Down 2-1 at 5:36 of second period, Howe scored his third goal of the season 28 seconds later. Howe had not scored since Dec. 12 and was playing his second game after a nine-day lay off.
But the Reign weren’t done. Voce scored his 10th goal of the season just 36 seconds later to provide a 3-2 lead that the Reign wouldn’t relinquish. Voce scored again at 17:03 of the third, and Hogeboom added a power-play goal in the third period to make it 5-2.