ONTARIO, Calif.- The Ontario Reign (37-16-5-3), proud affiliate of the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Las Vegas Wranglers (38-19-1-4) before a crowd of 6,453 at Citizens Business Bank Arena Friday night. The Reign's lead over the Wranglers in the Pacific Division dropped to one point.
The Reign had scored at least three goals in 13 of their last 14 games and got off to a good start against the Wranglers with a goal by Geoff Irwin 6:21 into the game. Players battled in front of the Wranglers net and the puck was knocked toward the blue line where Irwin leaned into a slap shot for his 16th goal of the season. Pat Bowen and Vincent LoVerde registered helpers on the goal.
Las Vegas drew even at 8:22 of the second frame as Judd Blackwater scored his 16th goal on a redirect of Adam Miller’s sharp-angle shot. The first penalty of the game didn’t come until just past the midway point of the contest when Everett Sheen was called for holding, giving Las Vegas its first of two power plays in the period. J.F. Berube kept Ontario in the game with a series of stops including a brilliant pad save on Jeff Hazelwood’s point-blank backhander.
No goals were scored in the third period and the game went to overtime which Las Vegas has controlled this season against the Reign with two overtime wins in two chances. However, most of the time was spent in the Wranglers end as Ontario outshot Las Vegas 7-1. Reign newcomer Tommy Lange had the best opportunity as he ended up all alone in front of Mitch O’Keefe, but couldn’t get a handle on the puck.
Kyle Kraemer scored in the first round to put the Reign up 1-0, but O’Keefe stopped the next four Ontario shots while Chris Francis and Judd Blackwater scored to give the Wranglers a 2-1 shootout win.
Berube (12-8-4) made 25 saves, while O'Keefe (6-6-1) turned aside 28. Berube extended his unbeaten streak to 10 games. Bill Bagron had his goal streak snapped at seven games.
Three Stars: 1) ONT - Geoff Irwin 2) LV - Judd Blackwater 3) ONT- Kyle Kraemer