ONTARIO, Calif. -- The Ontario Reign (34-16-4-2), proud affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, defeated the Utah Grizzlies (25-27-0-5) 5-2 in front of 4,919 at Citizens Business Bank Arena on Wednesday. The Reign took the first of the five-game series and are within one point of Pacific Division leaders, the Las Vegas Wranglers.
The Reign started off the scoring just three minutes into the game with a wraparound goal by Derek Couture, his 25th of the season. Couture received a drop pass from Geoff Irwin at the top of the circle and went around for the goal. Utah answered the goal just nine seconds later with a quick goal by Logan MacMillan. Halfway through the frame Everett Sheen sent a hard wrist shot deep into the Utah net. Alan Mazur was awarded the assist and Couture picked up his second point of the game with the second assist.
The second period took a different turn with the Grizzlies outshooting the Reign 12-5. Utah was unable to convert any of their chances during the period while the Reign scored on two of the five shots. Again, just less than three minutes into play, Bill Bagron scored his 20th goal of the season with a quick shot off a front-of-the-net feed from Watt. Less than two minutes later, at 4:36, Watt earned his second point of the game sending the puck into the net from the top of the circle off a pass from his previous Manchester Monarchs teammate, Chris Cloud.
Benn Olson capped off the Reign’s scoring with an early goal in the final frame. The Reign’s newest defenseman sent a shot into the Utah end which slid under Andrew Engelage as the goaltender came far out of his net to divert the shot with his body. Utah got themselves onto the board at 14:02 with a mini-breakaway goal by Colin Vock. Carrozzi took the win with 24 saves on 26 shots, while Englelage took the loss stopping just 23 of 28 shots.
The win capped off the best month in Reign history, as the team finished with 21 points (10-3-1).
Three Stars: 1) ONT – J.D. Watt 2) ONT – Derek Couture 3) ONT - Chris Carrozzi