ONTARIO, Calif. - The Ontario Reign (32-15-3-2), proud affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, swam upstream most of the game against the Idaho Steelheads (23-25-2-4), but sent the crowd of 5,459 at Citizens Business Bank Arena home happy with a 7-6 victory Sunday evening. Derek Couture and Kyle Kraemer each had three points and Pat Bowen got the game winner late in the third period to advance Ontario into a tie for first place in the Pacific Division.
The Steelheads jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period on a goal by David Fredriksson at 5:01 and a pair of goals by Aaron Lewicki…sort of. Lewicki’s first goal came as J. F. Berube knocked the forward’s shot to the side of the net where Everett Sheen accidentally redirected it into the Reign goal. Lewicki added a power-play goal at 16:33. Derek Couture got Ontario onto the scoreboard at 18:40 with his team-leading 23rd goal of the season. The Reign winger came from behind the Steelheads net where Bryan Hince stuck out his left leg pad to stop Couture’s wraparound attempt. Couture went to plan-B and pushed both the puck and Hince’s leg pad across the goal line for the score. Kevin Estrada and Geoff Irwin picked up assists.
Kyle Kraemer extended his point streak to 11 games with a power-play goal 6:20 into the second stanza. Chris Huxley’s shot from the blue line generated a long rebound which Kramer buried to cut the Idaho lead to 3-2. Chad Nehring reclaimed a two-goal advantage for Idaho at 8:58 before Couture tallied his second goal of the night 14:17. Alan Mazur and Irwin worked the puck down to Couture on the side of the net where he went forehand-to-backhand and chipped it between Hince and the goal post. The clubs again traded goals, as Andrei Plekhanov scored for Idaho at 15:17 and Estrada answered at 18:37 for Ontario, as he knocked home a pass from Couture to send the game into the second intermission with the Reign trailing 5-4.
Chris Carrozzi took over between the pipes for Ontario to start the third period and gave up a goal 43 seconds in to Derek LeBlanc who took advantage of a bad bounce to give Idaho a 6-4 lead. The Reign finally tied the contest with goals by Kraemer and Sheen 2:46 apart and Jerry Kuhn replaced Hince in the Idaho net. Pat Bowen’s power-play goal at 13:46 gave Ontario its first lead of the game. Huxley fed the puck to Bowen at the right point and the blueliner fired a booming slap shot into the top corner of the net for the 7-6 advantage. Carrozzi stopped the final eight Idaho shots to preserve the Reign's third one-goal victory in three nights.
Berube (10-8-2) made 18 saves before giving way to Corrozzi (13-6-3) who got the win. Kuhn (16-19-6) gave up only one goal on 10 shots, but suffered the loss as it was the game-winner. Hince (6-1-0) had 22 saves.