WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah - The Ontario Reign (37-16-5-2), proud affiliate of the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, climbed to within two points of first place in the Western Conference with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Utah Grizzlies (26-30-0-5) before a crowd of 3,290 at Maverik Center Wednesday night. Bill Bagron tied the ECHL's longest goal-scoring streak of the season at seven games.
The Grizzlies kept J.F. Berube busy in the first ten minutes of play as they generated several excellent scoring opportunities against the rookie goaltender while controlling the game tempo. Berube withstood the pressure before the Reign did what they’ve done in five of the previous eight meetings between these teams – scored the first goal.
While on a power play, Kyle Kraemer fired a one-timer from the right circle which was turned aside by Andrew Engelage, who fell backward into his net after making the save. Pat Bowen picked up the long rebound and threw the puck high into the net over Engelage. The big-bodied goaltender complained to referee Nick Krebsbach that he was interfered with, but looking at the replay, the only players near Engelage wore Grizzlies emblems on their sweaters. Chris Huxley, who got the play started when he nixed a Utah clearing attempt, also had an assist.
Utah scored the equalizer at 2:45 of the second period as Mitch Wahl snapped the puck past Berube. Ontario was held scoreless in the frame. It was one of only two regulation periods of the series that the Reign failed to score at least one goal as they outscored Utah 23-11.
David Strathman scored at 5:43 of the third stanza to give the Grizzlies a 2-1 lead. It was Utah’s first lead of the series since the opening minutes of the first period in Friday’s game in Ontario. With time winding down, Utah appeared to go into a prevent defense and Bagron took advantage. The Grizzlies skaters backed off as Bagron emerged from the corner along the half-boards and wheeled around toward the slot. Recognizing he had space, Bagron advanced further toward the net before blasting a cannon shot over the glove of Engelage to tie the game 2-2 with less than two minutes in regulation. Vincent LoVerde and Kraemer picked up assists.
Josh Burrows gave Ontario a golden opportunity as he was called for slashing at 18:52. However, the Reign were unable to convert and were called for consecutive minor penalties in the overtime period. The number one penalty-killing unit stopped the first chance, but Utah’s leading scorer, Paul McIlveen won the game for the Grizzlies at 3:12 with a one-timer from the left circle.
Berube (12-8-3) made 40 saves and extend his unbeaten streak to nine games, while Engelage (19-20-2) ended his four-game losing streak with 38 saves.
Three Stars: 1) UTA - Paul McIlveen 2) UTA - Andrew Engelage 3) UTA - Mitch Wahl