ONTARIO, Calif. – The Ontario Reign, proud affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, fell to the Idaho Steelheads, 6-3, before 6,116 fans at Citizens Business Bank Arena on Wednesday evening.
Center CJ Stretch opened scoring in the game 3:37 into the first period when he flipped a shot past the glove side of Idaho goaltender Kris Westblom with an assist from center Justin Taylor.
Left wing Mark Derlago answered back for the Steelheads with an unassisted power play goal at 17:36. His slap shot from the top of the right face-off circle sailed over the right shoulder of Reign netminder Mike Zacharias and tied the game at one. Right wing Junior Lessard caught Zacharias out of the crease 29 seconds later and took advantage of the open net, giving the Steelheads their first lead of the game, 2-1.
With 25 seconds remaining in the opening period and the Steelheads with a man advantage, Mark Derlago potted his second goal of the night when he snapped the puck into the top right corner of the net off assists from defenseman Weston Tardy and Junior Lessard.
The Steelheads held their 3-1 lead until 9:06 into the second period, when forward Kyle Kraemer sent a feed across the slot to right wing Alex Bourret, who flipped the puck past Westblom from the bottom of the right face-off circle. Defenseman Jordan Hill also registered an assist on the play.
Less than two minutes later, Idaho forward Kael Mouillierat deflected a shot from Weston Tardy past Zacharias to put the Steelheads up by two. Mouillierat’s power play goal closed out scoring in the second period, and the clubs headed into the final period with the Steelheads leading the Reign, 4-2.
Reign center Aaron Lewadniuk recorded his fourteenth goal of the season and cut the Idaho lead to one early in the third period. Lewadniuk fired the puck over Westblom’s glove at 2:46, and left wing Alex Morton and center Michael Pelech recorded the assists. Morton marked his first professional point and first tally as a member of the Reign with the assist.
Mark Derlago netted the hat trick when he fired off a laser that Zacharias couldn’t see through traffic in front of the crease. His goal gave Idaho a 5-3 lead over Ontario at 16:59.
The Reign pulled Zacharias for the extra skater with just over a minute remaining in the game, but Junior Lessard found the empty net for his second goal and third point of the night. The Steelheads took the win with a final score of Idaho 6, Ontario 3.
Three stars: 1. IDH – Mark Derlago 2. IDH – Junior Lessard 3. ONT – Aaron Lewadniuk