STOCKTON, Calif. – The Ontario Reign, proud affiliate of the NHL Los Angeles Kings, was defeated by the Stockton Thunder, 4-2, on Sunday evening at Stockton Arena before a crowd of 4,932. Ontario netminder Curtis Darling saved 29 of 32 shots in the match and right wing Sean O’Connor registered two points and his first goal as a member of the Reign.
The game was scoreless until 15:50 in the opening period, when left Garet Hunt beat Darling with an assist from right wing Riley Emmerson, and the Thunder took their 1-0 lead into the second period.
Left wing Jason Pitton extended the Thunder’s lead to two goals less than four minutes into the second, when his shot on the power play went high over Darling’s glove side and into the back of the net. Center Chris D’Alvise and left wing Judd Blackwater picked up the assists.
Right wing Sean O’Connor scored his first goal in a Reign sweater and put Ontario on the board at 6:48 with an unassisted snapshot that crossed the goal line over Thunder goaltender Andrew Perugini’s glove. O’Connor claimed his second consecutive goal and tied the game, 2-2, 4:58 into the final period. Defenseman David Walker and center Jon Francisco registered assists on O’Connor’s power play goal.
The Thunder broke the tie just under three minutes later. Defenseman Justin Dacosta scored the second Stockton power play goal of the game with assists from center Oren Eizenman and left wing Matt Robinson.
Midway through the final period, a Garet Hunt wraparound goal that would have given the Thunder a two-point lead was waved off. The officials ruled that the puck never crossed the goal line and play continued with Stockton leading, 3-2.
The Reign pulled Darling for the extra attacker in an attempt to tie the game as time ran out, but goaltender Andrew Pitton picked up a rebound in front of the net and found the stick of left wing Igor Gongalsky. Gongalsky took a shot that traveled the length of the ice and slid into the empty net to give the Thunder a 4-2 lead. The shorthanded goal cemented the win for Stockton, who claimed two standings points with a final score of Thunder 4, Reign 2.
1. STK – Justin Dacosta
2. ONT – Sean O’Connor
3. STK – Jason Pitton