Reign game breakdown
A game in which turnovers and sloppy breakout attempts plagued Ontario came with a predictable end result as the Reign dropped a 4-1 decision to the Gulls on Friday night in Ontario. It was their third straight loss to the Ducks affiliate in a week’s span. Ontario played without leading goal scorer Jonny Brodzinski for much of the second period after he was crumpled along by the boards by Ryan Garbutt. He reemerged for the third and scored the Reign’s only goal, a power play mark off a rebound. Already trailing 1-0 going into the final frame on a first period mark by Kyle MacKinnon, the Reign turned over the puck in neutral and surrendered another goal. In between a line change at 8:32 of the third, they lost sight of Jaycob Megna and the defenseman’s blistering shot from the left circle eluded the blocker of Jack Campbell. Brodzinski’s goal with less than six minutes left in regulation gave the team life on its first and only power play of the game, but a bouncy breakout led to a Nate Sorensen setting up a one-time goal for former Reign Jordan Samuels-Thomas. An empty-net goal by Garbutt followed.
Head coach Mike Stothers, on Garbutt’s hit on Brodzinski, who went down hard on the play as he was trying to curl up the left wall: “I guess that’s why it was only a two-minute penalty, because he was able to come back. The referee knew he was going to be able to come back. An AHL All-Star, leading goal scorer gets buried into the boards and it’s two minutes. Makes a lot of sense.”
–Kyle MacKinnon – Playing in just his seventh game of the season and first since late December, the Walnut, Calif., native scored his first goal of the season. While Reign defenseman Cameron Schilling got caught below the circles in the offensive zone, MacKinnon made an outlet pass to Zac Larraza to start a 3-on-2 against Adrian Kempe and Zac Leslie. MacKinnon ended up being the trailer on the play and held off a back-checking Justin Auger to poke the puck in. The goal had to be reviewed as the net was knocked off on the play but it stood as a good one.
–Jordan Samuels-Thomas – The game’s biggest goal was scored by the former Reign member. Brodzinski’s mark positioned the Reign for a possible comeback in the final minutes, but when T.J. Hensick mishandled a breakout pass Sorensen found Samuels-Thomas for the back-breaker. Samuels-Thomas quickly got in position for Sorensen and tapped his stick on the ice before receiving the cross-feed that Campbell, who had been bailing his team out most of the final period, could not catch up to.
–Jonny Brodzinski – Brodzinski came off the ice gingerly after the hit from Garbutt and for the already-very-injured Reign, it was a relief to see No. 22 well enough to return. His assessment of the play was that it was a “fluke,” and a “hockey play,” and he admitted that carrying the puck up the wing and curling quickly with Garbutt already oncoming, was a position he shouldn’t have put himself in. In adding to his team lead, he hammered in his 18th goal of the season off a Tom Gilbert rebound.
Ontario’s best period was the first one. The Brett Sutter-Mike Amadio-Brodzinski unit kept San Diego in its own zone for long stretches on multiple shifts, but after the opening 20 Ontario’s play teetered off. They were outshot 32-18 the rest of the way. “Our team is in-your-face, make it hard on the other guys, guys you’re lining up against and I think in the second we let off the gas pedal just a little bit,” said Sutter. “For whatever reason, I don’t know if it was just because we did have a good first and we probably didn’t get rewarded for the start that we did have, for whatever reason. We know what it takes to be successful, just about playing that game.”
–55 – Days until the Reign see San Diego, a team they’ve scored just one goal against in the last two meetings. The Reign will instead face the Gulls four times in the last week of the regular season.
Lineups and injuries
The Gulls played without leading scorer Corey Tropp (12-25=37) due to flu-like symptoms. … Ontario continues to be without the services of injured players Michael Mersch, Teddy Purcell, Joel Lowry, Alex Lintuniemi, Zach Trotman and Paul Bissonnette.
This and that off-ice
AHL CEO and President David Andrews was in attendance and spoke with the media during the second intermission. They’ll be another post on ORI in the coming days about what he had to say about a possible All-Star Classic coming to California, outdoor games, possible expansion and more.
Saturday will serve as a travel day for the Reign, who will play a pivotal Pacific Division matchup against the first-place Barracuda in San Jose on Sunday at 5 p.m. PT.