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.

So what happened to that offensive slump?

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?
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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.

Reign 5, Stockton 3.

First the good news.

The Reign power play came alive; officially they were 2-for-8 with the man advantage, but Tony Voce’s first goal came two seconds after a 5-on-4 shift expired.

The penalty kill was equally impressive, killing 4 of 5 – including a total of 1:37 while down two men late in the third period.

Todd Jackson came back into the lineup and was officially awarded two assists in his debut game. That could be changed upon review; Michael Pelech insisted that he did not touch the puck that Jackson deposited on the goal line in the first period, even though the goal was credited to Pelech, who followed Jackson’s shot to make sure it counted.

The other goals were more clear-cut — Voce scored twice, Jon Francisco and Sean O’Connor scored once, and Curtis Darling stopped 29 of 32 on less than 24 hours’ rest.

Now the bad news: James McEwan was taken to a hospital after his first-period fight with Stockton’s James Bates. McEwan injured his hand in the fight and did not return to the game.

Prior to the game, defenseman Mike Egener went on three-day injured reserve with what Karl Taylor called a “lower body injury,” and was replaced on the blue line by Brian Kilburg. Taylor said there is no timetable yet for Egener to return from Friday’s injury, but 3-day IR certainly leaves more room for optimism than the 7- or 21-day IR.

Peter Lenes, who has not scored a goal since Dec. 12, was scratched for the first time all season in order to make room for Jackson.

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

Alaska 3, Reign 2, shootout.

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.

Reign 4, Utah 0.

The Reign have their first back-to-back wins in more than a month, and their first series win in Utah ever. 


Tony Voce scored twice for the second straight game, Tim Kraus and Sean O’Connor added tallies, and Curtis Darling recorded his second shutout of the season.¬†

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

Reign 5, Utah 3.

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.

What didn’t make the notebook …

In tomorrow’s notebook you’ll find a breakdown of the team’s franchise-record, six-game losing streak. New forward acquisition Sal Peralta has arrived in town and I expect to be able to catch up with him tomorrow after practice.


In the meantime, to tide you over, here are some notes that didn’t make the notebook …

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Alaska 3, Reign 2, shootout.

In a game that finished just before 11 p.m. Pacific time, the Reign came up empty in the shootout after playing the Alaska Aces to a 2-2 tie through 65 minutes.

Michael Pelech and Tim Kraus scored to give the Reign a 2-0 lead they held until late in the second period. The Reign (13-15-2-2) then had to hang on after being outshot 12-3 in the third period. Curtis Darling stopped 35 of 37 shots in net.

Pelech’s fourth goal of the season came during a Reign power playat 3:35 of the first period. Mike Howe and defenseman Mike Egener picked up the assists. Kraus made it 2-0 at 6:08 of the middle period, putting a slapshot in from the left circle off assists from Greg Hogeboom and Shawn Germain.

But Alaska netminder Scott Reid took over from there, while Jason Ryznar (with 23 seconds left in the second) and and Bryan Miller (4:00 into the third) managed to tie the game up. Reid took over in the shootout, stoning Tony Voce, Hogeboom, Peter Lenes and Chad Starling in order, while Nick Mazzolini and Alexandre Imbeault scored on Darling.

The Reign will play the Aces again tomorrow night — their ninth game away from home out of 13 games in December — and ring in the New Year in Alaska an hour later than the rest of us.

In case you missed it, Lenes, Hogeboom, David Walker and Jon Rheault (who’s been in Manchester the last month) were named to the National Conference All-Star team earlier Wednesday.