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Reign Routed by Utah

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
ONTARIO, Calif. – The Ontario Reign, proud affiliate of the NHL Los Angeles Kings and AHL Manchester Monarchs, was defeated by the Utah Grizzlies Friday evening before a crowd of 5,560 fans at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

The Grizzlies took an early 1-0 lead when Utah opened up scoring in the match at 3:34. Right wing Vladimir Nikiforov tossed the puck behind Ontario netminder Jeff Zatkoff, off an assist from right wing Tim Verbeek. Utah notched the only goal in the first period, and the clubs headed into the second with the Reign looking for their first goal of the match.

After a Utah delay of game minor put the Reign on a power play, center Tim Kraus scored the equalizer for Ontario at 6:38 in the second period. Kraus received a feed from right wing Brad Mehalko and wristed the puck over Grizzlies goaltender Michael Mole’s shoulder from the sharp angle to the left of the net. Defenseman Darren McMillan also registered an assist on the power play goal.

Utah answered back less than a minute later. Vladimir Nikiforov picked up his second goal of the night when he fired the puck at the goal and his bid bounced off of Zatkoff’s glove and into the net. The unassisted goal gave Utah a 2-1 lead.

At 12:33, Grizzlies left wing Evan Kotsopoulos launched a shot on goal, but Zatkoff made the save. It bounced off his pads, and Kotsopoulos backhanded the loose puck into the net before Zatkoff could slide over after making the first save. The Grizzlies held their 3-1 lead as the teams geared up for the final period of play.

Utah scored their third unanswered goal midway through the third period during a power play. Forward Mark Pavli sent a shot whistling towards the goal from just inside the blue line. Right wing Mike Walsh, who was positioned just above the crease, deflected the shot over Zatkoff. Center Rob Hennigar also notched an assist on the power play goal, and the Grizzlies took a 4-1 lead over the Reign.

Utah extended their lead to four at 12:01. Defenseman Tim Maxwell snapped the puck towards the net, but it bounced off the post and out to left wing Dan McDonald. McDonald chipped a shot over a sprawled-out Zatkoff. Left wing Scott Thauwald registered the secondary assist on the goal. The Reign was unable to catch up, and dropped the match to the Grizzlies with a final score of Utah 5, Ontario 1.

Three stars:
1. UTAH – V. Nikiforov
2. UTAH – T. Maxwell
3. UTAH – M. Mole

• Tim Kraus is currently on a 2-game point streak (2g, 1a) (2/28/09-3/6/09)

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