Reign game breakdown
A 3-0 series lead was in the Reign’s reach going into Game 3 on Sunday on home ice against San Diego, the end of three games in a four-day stretch. The kind of 3-0 Ontario was seeking was instead flipped by the Gulls, who outplayed the Reign in a 3-0 win to get back in the series trailing two games to one. “They were the better team,” Reign head coach Mike Stothers said. “That’s all I got to say about it. They were the better team. We weren’t nearly good enough to even think that we were going to beat them tonight. Kudos to them. Good push, good game.” It started at puck drop for the Gulls — a deflection in the first minute and the red light behind goalie Peter Budaj was on, but later the officials ruled no goal. Again, with just under 8 minutes left in the opening period Harry Zolnierczyk hit a flying rebound down and into the net, but it was rightly called a high stick on the ice and stood under review. Finally the Gulls broke through with 1:33 remaining when Adrian Kempe lost his coverage of Kalle Kossila in the corner and Antoine Laganiere found the rookie for an easy shot into the empty net to Budaj’s right. A night prior, Gulls goalie Matt Hackett saved his team time and again but took a 2-1 overtime loss. On Sunday, he did more of the same against Ontario, weathering their 10 shots on goal in the first period. The Reign’s closest chance at a goal all game was a post hit by defenseman Jeff Schultz with less than 8 minutes left in the second period. “I don’t know how many shots we had tonight but I don’t know how many opportunities we really had,” said defenseman Kevin Gravel. In the two wins in the series for the Reign, their power play came through, but it was a miserable 0-for-3 on Sunday and couldn’t control the puck to get quality chances on Hackett, even when starting the third period with 1:35 of man advantage time and down 1-0. Instead, San Diego capitalized on theirs. With Schultz in the box for cross-checking, Nick Ritchie scored on a rebound with just two seconds left on the man advantage to put the Gulls up by 2 at the 8:18 mark. It was the first power play goal the Reign have surrendered this postseason. Stothers tried mixing the lines in the third to get any spark from his team. “I can only watch for so long,” he said. “If I don’t like what I’m seeing then I’m going to change it up. … We didn’t have anything going, so doesn’t make much sense to keep rolling the same guys out if there’s nothing going on.” But nothing seemed to work, and afterwards Stothers admitted that his squad was, “not quite in sync, not quite in focus.” Budaj was pulled with 3:39 remaining in regulation in hopes of a comeback, but instead Jaycob Megna fired into the empty net deep in his own zone 28 seconds later. Hackett finished with 29 saves in the shutout performance and Budaj had 24.

Vince Rappleyea / San Diego Gulls

Best quote
Gravel, on moving on after a loss: “It’s a long series. Everyone expected it. Obviously you want to win every game you play but we got four or five days here to regroup, take a step back and evaluate where we’re at and evaluate our game here and have a good week of practice.”

Three stars
–Matt Hackett – The Gulls goalie faced 44 shots a night prior and after this shutout, had 73 shots fired on his net in less that 24 hours. This was a redemption win for the netminder who was devastated after the OT loss in Game 2, and tweeted to his fans thanking them for the support. Hackett, the backup in for the injured Anton Khudobin, won his second game of the playoffs and he celebrated this one with a ferocious fist pump. “We needed that game,” he told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
–Kalle Kossila – San Diego coach Dallas Eakins may be wondering why on earth he scratched the former St. Cloud State forward in Game 2 of this series. Kossila scored in San Diego’s 5-3 loss in Game 1 and was a big-time contributor in this Game 3 win. Kossila beat Kempe to get open on the first goal and also took the cross-check from Schultz behind the Reign net that resulted in Ritchie’s power play tally.
–Nick Ritchie – Stothers has called Ritchie a talented, “big son of a gun,” and the presence of the Gulls star would not be denied in Game 3. Ritchie scored his fifth goal of the postseason and his second in as many games to help his team’s talented power play finally solve the Reign’s equally talented PK. Ritchie hammered the puck through Budaj’s five hole after Brandon Montour’s shot from the top of the blue line left a juicy rebound to put his team up 2-0.

Vince Rappleyea / San Diego Gulls

Turning point
No one was on the big-bodied Ritchie on his power play goal and the play alone deflated Ontario. With the Reign generating little chances (just 6 SOG in the third period) and San Diego up 2-0 and moving into its neutral zone trap, there was also little hope for a comeback.

Stat fact
–19 – Perfect penalty kills to start the postseason for Ontario before surrendering the goal to Ritchie.

This and that off-ice
Kings assistant coach John Stevens was in attendance, as well as head coach Darryl Sutter, who’s been seen at games lately.

Next up
The Reign have a recovery day on Monday and will get back to practice the rest of the week before Game 4 on Friday night in San Diego at 7:05 p.m.

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Kevin Gravel

#4 | 6′ 4″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: DOB: 2/17/1996
Birthplace: KINGSFORD, MI
Position: D

Bio

Gravel made his NHL debut with Los Angeles in the 2015-16 season, skating with the Kings for four games before returning to AHL affiliate Ontario.
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Rob Scuderi

#0 | 6′ 1″ | 212 lb | Age: 37

Born: DOB: 12/30/1978
Birthplace: SYOSSET, NY
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Scuderi is currently playing for the Reign while under contract with the LA Kings. He has won two Stanley Cups, once with the Pittsburgh Penguins and with the Kings.
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Michael Mersch

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 225 lb | Age: 24

Born: DOB: 10/2/1992
Birthplace: PARK RIDGE, IL
Position: LW
Handedness: Left

Bio

Drafted by the Kings in 2011, Mersch is currently playing forward for the Reign. Last season, he drew into his first NHL game for the Kings, where he registered 2 shots and 3 hits.
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Michael Latta

#24 | 6′ 0″ | 207 lb | Age: 25

Born: 5/25/1991
Birthplace: KITCHENER, ON
Position: F
Handedness: Right

Bio

Prior to turning professional, Latta played major junior hockey in the OHL with the Ottawa 67’s and Guelph Storm. He was drafted into the NHL in 2009 and joined the King’s affiliate Reign in 2016.
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Adrian Kempe

#09 | 6′ 1″ | 187 lb | Age: 20

Born: 9/13/1996
Birthplace: KRAMFORS,SWEDEN
Position: LW
Handedness: Left

Bio

Growing up in Swedan, Kempe made his hockey debut in 2014 in the Swedish Hockey League. He has since been drafted by the Kings, where he is playing for their AHL affiliate team, the Ontario Reign.
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Brett Sutter

#07 | 6′ 0″ | 192 lb | Age: 29

Born: 6/2/1987
Birthplace: CALGARY, AB
Position: C

Bio

Drafted in 2005 by the Calgary Flames, Sutter was traded to the Reign in 2016. He is the son of LA Kings head couch Darryl Sutter, and the eighth member of the Sutter family to play in the NHL.
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