11/25 REIGN FINAL – Reign 2, Roadrunners 3 – Sturm, Thomas

The Ontario Reign (11-5-1-1) were unable to climb out of an early three goal hole and fell to the Tucson Roadrunners (10-6-1-1) by a 3-2 score on Tuesday night at Toyota Arena.

TJ Tynan and Akil Thomas found the back of the net for the Reign in the second period, while goaltender Erik Portillo came on in relief and stopped all 15 shots he faced in the final 40 minutes of the game.


Tucson took a commanding lead in the first period, chasing Ontario’s starting goaltender David Rittich by scoring three goals on six shots.

The Roadrunners got on the board first at 12:42 when Austin Poganski netted an unassisted shorthanded goal on a rush up the right wing. Jan Jenik added to the Tucson lead less than two minutes later at 14:29 with another unassisted tally that came on the rush off a steal at his own blue line. Cameron Hebig added the third tally for the Roadrunners at 17:37 to give the visitors a big cushion at the first intermission.

Portillo took over in between the pipes to begin the second period and steadied the ship for the Reign, making eight saves in the middle frame.

Ontario began its comeback attempt midway through the second at 8:26 when Tynan scored his third goal of the season by deflecting a shot from Jacob Moverare into the net from the side of the cage, making it a 3-1 game. Samuel Fagemo earned the second assist on the play, running his point streak to seven straight contests.

Thomas made it at one-goal game at 12:20, blasting a shot by goaltender Matt Villalta on the power play off a goal line feed by Charles Hudon. Tynan also factored in on the goal and picked up his second point of the contest by sending the puck down low to Hudon.

But Ontario was unable to get any closer in the third period despite putting 14 shots on Villalta in the final 20 minutes. The Reign killed off back-to-back penalties to Jacob Doty and Tyler Inamoto in the period to keep themselves within a goal and Portillo turned out seven Tucson shots.

Overall Ontario went 1-for-4 on the power play in the game and held Tucson to an 0-for-3 mark on the man-advantage. Villalta totaled 31 saves to earn his second win against the Reign this season for Tucson.

Postgame thoughts from head coach Marco Sturm and Thomas are below.

Marco Sturm
On tonight’s loss
We were actually happy with our first period. We only gave up one shot in the first 12 or 13 minutes, so that’s how it goes sometimes, but the guys battled. The guys knew it too, we all felt the same way and they came back with a couple goals in the second. In the third, I cant get mad at them, because they tried everything and unfortunately it didn’t go in, but being down 3-0 is a big hole. Unfortunately we couldn’t come back today or at least get a point, even if we deserved that one.

On Erik Portillo entering in the second period
He was really good. He made saves right away and he was very sharp, so I was really pleased with his overall effort. He had to come in, and that’s why we didn’t want to [make a change] right away in the first period. I wanted to wait and give him some extra time to warm up between periods. He was definitely ready to go.

On the crucial penalty kill and strong third period effort
I think special teams weren’t the problem today. Sometimes its frustrating in those kinds of games because we thought, as a team, we outplayed them and came up short. That’s hockey. So you’ve got to move on. Unfortunately didn’t get any points, but now we’ve got to reset and regroup for the next couple of days, have good practices and two good games against Coachella.

On the power play unit’s recent success
They’ve been solid. They’ve had to come up big in big moments and they scored us a big goal for us in that moment tonight. Unfortunately, we couldn’t really get one even if we had the chances in the third, but Sammy [Fagemo] makes a big difference on that unit. It makes them very dangerous and I’m happy with them. I know they’re going to score and they just have to stick to it.

Akil Thomas

The Reign will be back in action at Toyota Arena on Friday night when they host the Coachella Valley Firebirds at 7 p.m.

Rules for Blog Commenting

  • No profanity, slurs or other offensive language. Replacing letters with symbols does not turn expletives into non-expletives.
  • Personal attacks against other blog commenters, and/or blatant attempts to antagonize other comments, are not tolerated. Respectful disagreement is encouraged. Posts that continually express the same singular opinion will be deleted.
  • Comments that incite political, religious or similar debates will be deleted.
  • Please do not discuss, or post links to websites that illegally stream NHL games.
  • Posting under multiple user names is not allowed. Do not type in all caps. All violations are subject to comment deletion and/or banning of commenters, per the discretion of the blog administrator.

Repeated violations of the blog rules will result in site bans, commensurate with the nature and number of offenses.

Please flag any comments that violate the site rules for moderation. For immediate problems regarding problematic posts, please email zdooley@lakings.com.