No waiting around this time for Reign, Gulls in winner-take-all Game 5 - LA Kings Insider

The Reign’s team bus departed from just outside the Citizens Business Bank Arena loading dock around 10:30 p.m. on Monday night. The team had forced a Game 5 against San Diego with 4-1 punch-to-the gut victory over their rivals.

There’s no waiting around this time. Game 5 will be played tonight at San Diego’ Valley View Casino Center at 7 p.m. Getting some extra rest, the team did not hold a morning skate today.

When the schedule came out for this first round best-of-5 series there were two long waits. The first was just to get to Game 1 on April 21, a full weekdays’ worth of work for a Friday game, which the Reign took on San Diego’s ice 3-2. The other was to get to Game 3, another five-day stretch without playing.

But the end of this series has been jammed with three games over five days. San Diego’s 3-1 win on home ice last Friday gave them a 2-1 series edge, but the Reign’s victory Monday night at home has taken the series to the limit.

Ontario, with their season on the line for a second straight contest, hopes to use some cautious carry-over confidence.

“We’re just going to feed off the adrenaline tonight and just keep it going tomorrow,” said forward Justin Auger after Monday’s game in which he led the way with two goals and an assist.

Added head coach Mike Stothers: “This five games have been stretched out long enough so you know what, we’ve got to get at it … I don’t know if there’s any advantage to the back-to-back or the layoff. … I’m kind of anxious now to – let’s get going.”

Stothers has mixed up his lines from game to game but found a combination on Monday that got to Gulls goalie Jhonas Enroth, who had limited his team to just one goal in each of the Game 2 and Game 3 defeats. The moves included bouncing Auger up to a line with T.J. Hensick and Jonny Brodzinski. Michael Mersch, who had two assists in Game 4, hasn’t scored in this series but has been around the net so much that he’s led both sides on shots on goal the last two contests. On Monday, he skated with Adrian Kempe and Sean Backman, another of the four lines that caused problems for San Diego.

“That’s the thing with our team, is that any given night someone can be the difference and who knows who it’ll be [Tuesday] but hopefully it’s someone on our side,” Hensick said Monday night.

The team that’s scored first has won every game in this series, so the start will again be crucial. The Reign believe they are ready.

“They’ve had some good starts against us and we kind of needed to turn the page and turn it around on them and I’m sure they’ll be looking to come at us hard in the first tomorrow but we’re going to do the same thing,” said defenseman Paul LaDue.

The fact that there hasn’t been overtime in this series has been a testament to both sides playing hard till the final horn. Brodzinski scored with just 11.7 seconds left to win Game 1 and Nic Kerdiles gave San Diego its first playoff win on home ice against Ontario, scoring with under two minutes to go in Friday’s Game 3.

“I’m sure (Game 5) is the one that we’re going to see make its way to overtime,” Gulls coach Dallas Eakins said.

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Kevin Gravel

#4 | 6′ 4″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

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


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.

Rob Scuderi

#0 | 6′ 1″ | 212 lb | Age: 37

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


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.

Michael Mersch

#27 | 6′ 1″ | 225 lb | Age: 24

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


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.

Michael Latta

#24 | 6′ 0″ | 207 lb | Age: 25

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


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.

Adrian Kempe

#09 | 6′ 1″ | 187 lb | Age: 20

Born: 9/13/1996
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


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.

Brett Sutter

#07 | 6′ 0″ | 192 lb | Age: 29

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


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.