ONTARIO, Calif. – The Ontario Reign, proud affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, fell to the Las Vegas Wranglers, 7-4, before 6,744 fans at Citizens Business Bank Arena on Friday evening.
The first eight minutes of the opening period yielded two goals from each club, but it was Las Vegas center Chris Francis who drew first blood. He deflected center Colin Long’s feed from across the slot past Ontario goaltender Mike Zacharias at a sharp angle at 4:37.
Only 15 seconds later, Reign defenseman Doug Krantz potted his first goal of the season when he fired off a slap shot from just inside the blue line that sailed straight into the back of the net behind Wranglers netminder Michael Ouzas. Right wing Alex Bourret registered the assist on the equalizer.
Less than a minute later, the Wranglers took a 2-1 lead when forward Greg Collins chipped in a pass from forward Blake Gallagher. Defenseman Craig Switzer also recorded an assist on the goal at 5:36.
Forward Kyle Kraemer tied the game at two with a laser shot to the top right corner of the net over shoulder of Ouzas. Forward Jordan Morrison and defenseman David Walker picked up the assists on the power play goal at 7:45. Kraemer’s twelfth goal of the season closed out scoring in the opening period.
Just 49 seconds into the second period, the Wranglers took a 3-2 lead with a power play tally from left wing Blair Riley, but the Reign tied the game again less than a minute later. Justin Taylor fired off a close-range shot on Ouzas that he turned aside, but center C.J. Stretch picked up the loose puck and lifted it into the top shelf over Ouzas who was sprawled out in the crease.
Blair Riley scored his second goal of the night and gave his club a 4-3 lead when he picked up a loose puck in front of the crease exactly one minute later, but Alex Bourret answered back for the Reign at 6:07. While the Reign was on a two-man advantage, Bourret rocketed a slap shot past Ouzas off assists from David Walker and Jordan Morrison, who each picked up their second assists of the game on the tally.
Las Vegas defenseman Aaron Power’s scoring attempt was saved by Zacharias, but the rebound came to a stop behind the goaltender’s skate. Center Justin Bernhardt reached behind Zacharias and poked the loose puck over the goal line at 8:05, giving Las Vegas a 5-4 lead to close out the second period.
Blake Gallagher sent a wrister towards Zacharias and the shot bounced off the goaltender’s glove and was knocked over the goal line by defenseman Kevin Schaeffer at 3:43 in the third frame. The Wranglers scored their third unanswered goal late in the third period when Ryan Huddy’s unassisted wrist shot hit twine at 17:58. Huddy’s twenty-fifth goal of the season closed out scoring for the night, and the Wranglers won the game with a final score of Las Vegas 7, Reign 4.
Three stars: 1. LV – Blair Riley 2. LV – Greg Collins 3. ONT – Alex Bourret