3/24 REIGN FINAL – Reign 4, Condors 3 – Sturm, Thomas, Pinelli + Doty

Akil Thomas scored for the third straight game and Nikita Pavlychev netted a goal and an assist for the Ontario Reign (34-21-3-4) in a 4-3 win over the Bakersfield Condors (34-23-2-2) Sunday afternoon, the team’s third straight home win of the week.

The victory extended Ontario’s point streak at home to 11 consecutive games, dating back to February 9. Erik Portillo stopped 23 of Bakersfield’s shot attempts to record the 19th win of his rookie campaign.


Thomas got the scoring started just 2:52 into the opening period with his third goal in as many games, wristing a pass from Brandt Clarke into the goal from the inside of the right circle. Thomas’ 20th goal of the year also had a secondary assist credited to Tyler Madden.

The Condors evened the score at 3:37 of the second when Dylan Holloway put a centering pass by Portillo on the power play to tie the game at 1-1.

Ontario went back in front later in the middle frame at 12:10 when Pavlychev deflected a puck home in the crease off a feed by Colton Young. Ryan Francis also picked up an assist on the play, which was Pavlychev’s fourth goal of the season.

Jacob Doty gave the Reign insurance less than five minutes later at 16:58 when he knocked a rebound past goaltender Olivier Rodrigue to make it 3-1. Doty’s fifth tally of the year came with assists by Pavlychev and Wyatte Wylie.

Bakersfield made it a one-goal game again 1:28 into the third with their second power play tally of the contest scored by Matvey Petrov.

But the Condors never found another equalizer, with Ontario holding them down defensively for most of the remainder of the third. Thomas sent his second goal of the day into an empty net with 1:04 left on the clock to give the Reign a 4-2 advantage.

A final strike by Bakersfield’s Carter Savoie with 14 seconds remaining put the Condors back within a goal, but Ontario controlled the puck during the final seconds as the clock ticked down to secure the victory, their third of 2023-24 against Bakersfield.

The Condors did most of their damage on the power play, going 2-for-2 on the man-advantage while Ontario was 0-for-1. Rodrigue finished with 19 saves in a losing effort for the visitors.

Postgame thoughts from Sturm as well as Thomas, Pinelli and Doty are below.

Marco Sturm
On another full team effort to secure an important win
It started a few weeks ago actually. We started to have guys out, but it doesn’t matter. We’ve played the same way and we found our identity. Everyone kind of found their role in the team too. The third and fourth lines are the guys who stepped up. We need everyone. It comes down to everyone, especially if we don’t have a guy like Samuel Fagemo, who is one of our top players.

On Akil Thomas scoring in three straight games
I’m happy to see his success. It’s been skyrocketing since day one this year. He’s probably been our best player consistently, and I mentioned this the other day, but with Hudon and Fagemo out I told him to take charge. He took it to heart. He leads the way and gets out of his comfort zone, and that shows me that he’s ready to go.

On Francesco Pinelli and his linemates
I call it “the Kids Line.” They’ve been really good. They’ve been buzzing. It took [Pinelli] a long time. He had a stretch from becoming the guy in the OHL to now playing on the fourth line. He had to learn. He’s another guy that has accepted his role and he knows exactly what it takes. Those guys give us good minutes and I don’t really have a problem sending them in faceoffs and stuff like that. I’m really happy the way he has developed, especially the last few weeks.


Akil Thomas


Francesco Pinelli
On playing with two other young forwards
I feel good. Obviously Sturmy has put more trust in me, and I’m playing better, so I’m just going to continue to work on my game. It’s good to play with all the guys on the team. Francis and Young are good players and I’ve had fun playing with them and giving them some advice. They came a little later in the year so I’ve just been talking to them and making sure they’re good.

On how he fits into his role even with new linemates
I try not to change my game too much. Obviously the role I’m playing is an energy-type role, so I think Francis, Young and I need to create that for the team so that we can all be consistent throughout the full 60 minutes.

On making the regular drive out to Ontario in his first season
I think its honestly a nice drive out here and then we get into the hotel. I think it’s fun. We also have a little pregame routine where Akil and I play some pool. I’m always giving it to him.


Jacob Doty

Ontario returns to action on Wednesday night in San Jose for a matchup against the Barracuda inside Tech CU Arena at 7 p.m.

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