ONTARIO, Calif. – The Ontario Reign, proud affiliate of the NHL Los Angeles Kings and AHL Manchester Monarchs, defeated the Bakersfield Condors, 7-3, Saturday evening at Citizens Business Bank Arena. The crowd of 9,659 fans was the first sellout crowd in Reign history.
Much to the dismay of a packed house, Bakersfield opened up scoring in the match at 7:17. Center Bruce Graham chipped the puck over Ontario goaltender Jeff Zatkoff and into the back of the net. Forwards Matt Pope and Andrew Ianiero registered the assists on the goal, and the Condors took an early 1-0 lead.
The Reign didn’t let the Condors hold their lead for long. Right wing Geoff Walker tied up the game during a power play when he caught Bakersfield netminder Dave McKee out of position. Walker slipped the puck around McKee and into the net. Forward Dale Reinhardt and defenseman Dan Knapp notched the assists on the power play goal at 9:26. The score remained tied, 1-1, as the teams geared up for the second period.
On a play that found Reign defenseman Andrew Martens without a stick, the Condors took their second lead of the game. Andrew Ianiero received the puck from defenseman Andrew Thomas in front of the crease. Zatkoff dived to make the save but Ianiero poked it up and over.
Less than 30 seconds later, defenseman Chad Starling came up big for the Reign just after Andrew Martens was sent to the box for a 10 minute misconduct penalty. After getting a pass from center Jon Francisco, right wing Bud Holloway fed the puck to Starling, who was just outside of the left face-off circle. Starling snapped the puck into the empty top-shelf of the goal, and the Reign tied the game, 2-2.
At 9:24, the Reign took their first lead of the game. Jon Francisco found right wing Jon Rheault ready at the top of the crease. Rheault faked out McKee with a deke and buried the puck in the back of the net. Defenseman Dan Knapp recorded the secondary assist, and both he and Francisco picked up their second points of the game.
Right wing Denny Johnston scored the Reign’s third unanswered goal at 13:20. Johnston skated straight towards McKee, and flipped the puck back into the goal. Geoff Walker claimed one of the assists and his second point of the game, while left wing Ryan MacGregor picked up the other. The Reign held their 4-2 lead as they headed into the final period of play.
After a Condors interference minor put the Reign on a power play, center Tim Kraus sent a wrist shot towards the net that brushed McKee’s pads before it crossed the stripe. Defensemen David Walker and Andrew Martens picked up the assists on the power play goal, and the Reign increased their lead to three.
During a two man advantage, Andrew Martens extended the Reign’s lead to four goals. Bud Holloway fed the puck across the zone to Martens, who slammed the one-timer home on McKee’s glove side. Jon Francisco also picked up an assist on the goal, and his third point of the game.
Just over a minute later, the Reign made the score 7-2, and took their biggest lead in club history. Dale Reinhardt threw the puck to right wing Mike Howe from just behind the net. Howe’s first bid bounced off McKee’s pads and back out to his stick. Howe squeezed the puck between the post and McKee.
The Condors cut the Reign’s lead by one with less than three minutes remaining in the match. Right wing Liam Huculak flipped the puck over Zatkoff’s right shoulder with assists from Matt Pope and Andrew Thomas. It was too little, too late for Bakersfield, however, and Ontario went on to win the match with a final score of Reign 7, Condors 3.
• Tim Kraus is currently on a 3-game point streak (3g, 1a) (2/28/09-3/7/09)
• The crowd of 9,659 fans was the first sellout in Reign history
1. ONT – J. Francisco
2. ONT – B. Holloway
3. ONT – C. Starling