STOCKTON, Calif. - The Ontario Reign (29-15-3-2), proud affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, earned a 3-1 victory againt the Stockton Thunder (23-21-1-4) before 3,457 at Stockton Arena Wednesday night.
There were no goals in the first period of the contest between the Reign and Thunder, but there was lots of action as both Chris Carrozzi and Olivier Roy withstood sustained pressure and outnumbered attacks by their opponents. Roy turned aside a point-blank shot by Kyle Kraemer while Carrozzi stopped Jordan Fulton’s solo bid.
The second period saw less pressure hockey and more end-to-end runs with both goalies making spectacular saves to keep the game scoreless until 18:50 when Kevin Estrada gave the Reign a 1-0 lead. Chris Huxley fired a slap shot from the blue line that went wide and bounced off the rear dasher boards and out toward the right corner. Estrada chased down the puck and, while facing away from the net, slapped a backhander past Roy from a steep angle. C.J. Stretch also had an assist.
Ontario extended its lead to 2-0 just 1:27 into the third period on Tristan King’s 14th marker of the season. Geoff Irwin fed King in the slot and he flicked it over Roy’s glove. Kyle Kraemer extended his scoring streak to eight games with an assist on the play. The Thunder cut the Reign lead to 2-1 on Ian O’Connor’s goal at 9:11. The Reign put the lead in jeopardy as Bill Bagron and Huxley were both assessed minor penalties late in the frame, and Stockton had a two-man advantage for 1:08.
Irwin intercepted a pass at the Reign blue line and raced into the Thunder zone where he appeared to score a short-handed goal. However, the puck bounced out quickly and was covered by Roy. The turnover happened so quickly that referee Nick Leduc was too far behind the play to confirm the goal and the score stood at 2-1.
The Reign penalty-kill unit absorbed the late Thunder onslaught and newcomer Mike McKenzie iced the game for Ontario with an empty-net goal at 19:01 as Ontario went on to win 3-1.
Carrozzi (11-6-3) made 30 saves on 31 shotsin the win, while Roy (10-15-5) stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced in the loss.
Three stars: 1) ONT- Chris Carrozzi 2) STK- Colten Hayes 3) STK- Olivier Roy