Ontario Reign 2, Stockton Heat 1
SOG: ONT 23, STK 29
PP: ONT 0/5, STK 0/3
ONT starters: G Jeff Zatkoff, D Alex Lintuniemi, D Vincent LoVerde, LW Sean Backman, C Brett Sutter, RW Devin Setoguchi
STK starters: G Jon Gillies, D Kenney Morrison, D Keith Aulie, F Austin Carroll, F Morgan Klimchuk, F Linden Vey
1) Alex Lintuniemi (1) (Vincent LoVerde, Joel Lowry), 2:44
2) Michael Mersch (12) (Kurtis MacDermid, Teddy Purcell), 7:35
3) Kenney Morrison (3) (Andrew Mangiapane, Linden Vey), 2:45
–The Reign improved to 29-15-8-0 overall and 4-2-1-0 against the Heat (22-23-4-1). Ontario also improved to 18-7-2-0 at home and 23-15-8-0 against Pacific Division opponents.
–Jonny Brodzinski, who leads the Reign in goals with 21, missed his first game of the season after appearing in the first 51. It was learned by ORI that this scratch was injury-related.
–Goalie Jeff Zatkoff made his first start for Ontario, snapping Jack Campbell’s streak at 36 straight starts. Zatkoff stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced as his record improved to 1-0-0. It was his first start since Jan. 23 against the New York Rangers when still with Los Angeles.
–Michael Mersch was credited with the game-winning goal and now has goals in both games since returning to the lineup Wednesday from his knee injury.
–Defenseman Alex Lintuniemi returned to the lineup after missing 11 games due to a groin injury and scored his first AHL goal 2:44 into the game.
–Ontario (52 GP, .635 winning percentage) remains third in the Pacific Division behind first-place San Jose (49 GP, .724) and second-place San Diego (50 GP, .680).
–Kurtis MacDermid assisted on Mersch’s goal and now has an assist in each of the last four games.
–The Reign were outshot by Stockton, 29-25, and were led by MacDermid, with three shots on goal.
–Here’s how the Reign aligned in rushes:
Michael Mersch – T.J. Hensick – Teddy Purcell
Sean Backman – Brett Sutter – Devin Setoguchi
Patrick Bjorkstrand – Mike Amadio – Justin Auger
Joel Lowry – Andrew Crescenzi – Sam Herr
Alex Lintuniemi – Vincent LoVerde
Kurtis MacDermid – Alexx Privitera
Cameron Schilling – Zac Leslie
–Lintuniemi is playing his first game since missing the previous 11 due to a groin injury.
–Jonny Brodzinski is out of the lineup for the first time all season after appearing in all 51 prior. For what it’s worth, he was hit hard on Wednesday in the second period and missed much of the rest of that frame before returning for the third period. It’s been learned that this scratch is indeed injury related.
–Goalie Jeff Zatkoff will make his first start for the Reign tonight, as was learned and reported by ORI on Thursday. Head coach Mike Stothers said he informed Zatkoff of the start prior to Wednesday’s 6-2 loss in Stockton, a game in which Jeff Campbell was pulled early second period in favor of Zatkoff after making 10 saves on 14 shots.
–Ontario is 3-2-1-0 against Stockton this season and 10-6-2-0 all time. Heat forward Mark Jankowski leads all skaters in the series with seven points (four goals, three assists) after a two-goal, assist performance Wednesday. Former Kings property Linden Vey has registered four multi-point games in the last five games and leads the Heat with 10 multi-point games.
–As far as streaks go, defenseman Kurtis MacDermid is on a three-game assist streak (three assists) and winger Jonny Brodzinski is also on a three-game point streak (1G-3A=4).
–Tonight’s game will be veteran forward Teddy Purcell’s 700th as a pro and Sean Backman’s 400th in the AHL.