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Reign on Brink

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
STOCKTON, Calif. – The Ontario Reign, proud affiliate of the NHL Los Angeles Kings and AHL Manchester Monarchs, fell to the Stockton Thunder, 4-2, on Sunday afternoon. 4,912 fans were in attendance when the Thunder took a 3-2 series lead over the Reign at Stockton Arena.

The Thunder was the first out of the gate in game five, opening up the match with the only two goals in the first period. Center Cory Urquhart beat Ontario netminder Jeff Zatkoff with a backhand for the first Thunder goal at 8:15. While on a power play less than five minutes later, defenseman Cleve Kinley made it 2-0 Stockton with his bid that made it through traffic and into the back of the net.

Ontario got on the board 2:09 into the middle frame. Defenseman Andrew Martens brought the Reign within one point of the Thunder with his goal in his first game back with the Reign since being loaned to the Toronto Marlies in March. Right wings Bud Holloway and Geoff Walker picked up the assists on the play, and Holloway extended his point streak to five games.

At 8:40, center Craig Valette answered back with his bid that slid over the goal line and in behind Zatkoff through the five-hole. Right wing James Bates extended Stockton’s lead to three points at 16:51 with an unassisted goal. Bates threw a backhand into the net before Zatkoff could slide over to make the save. Bates’ goal closed out scoring in the middle frame, and the clubs geared up for the final period of play with the Thunder leading, 4-1.

Center Jon Francisco scored his first goal of the playoffs and brought the Reign within two goals of the Thunder at 6:34 in the third. Francisco picked up the puck just in front of the crease and smashed a one-timer past Stockton goaltender Parker Van Buskirk. Andrew Martens and right wing Brad Mehalko notched the assists on the goal.

Francisco’s goal ended scoring in the match, leaving Stockton to claim the win and a 3-2 series lead over Ontario with a final score of Thunder 4, Reign 2.

To view the box score, click here.
Three stars:
1. STK – P. Van Buskirk
2. STK – C. Valette
3. STK – R. Bina

Notes:
Bud Holloway is currently on a 5-game point streak (5g, 6a) (4/10/09-4/19/09)
• Stockton leads the series, 3-2; the clubs will meet for game 6 in Ontario on Tuesday, April 21

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