(photo: Dinur Blum)
Anytime after Christmas is going to be rough on any team but the Ontario Reign proved that wasn’t completely the case after their two-game weekend against the Idaho Steelheads. The two teams met once again and both a win and a loss came out of the duo for the Reign.
Dec. 26 shootout win
The game was close, in fact a little too close for comfort. The Reign won 5-4 in a shootout but things could have completely turned around in a second. Idaho opened up the scoring first after a two-on-one issue by Wade MacLeod at 8:39. Not long after, Ludwig Karlsson fired a shot right past Reign goaltender Jussi Olkinuora at 13:31 to end the first period with a 2-0 lead for Idaho.
Ontario bounced back during the second period with three goals from Derek Couture, Gasper Kopitar and Rocco Carzo that kept them in the running. The Steelheads weren’t going to just give the Reign the “W” that easily. Idaho scored two more goals during the second from Brett Robinson and Troy Vance that kept their lead going and the period ended at 4-3.
The third period came around with almost no changes until Reign’s Vincent Arseneau tied the game up at 8:27. With no other goals for the rest of the period, it was time for some overtime fun.
None of the teams scored during the overtime period so they forced a shootout. Olkinuora denied all four of Idaho’s shooters and took the victory with 31 saves.
Dec. 27 shootout loss
Good things don’t last forever and proof of this for the Reign came just 24 hours after their shootout win. Ontario fell to the Steelheads 4-3 in a shootout to end the post-Christmas weekend.
Ontario’s Matt White got the Reign on the scoreboard first at 2:46 of the first period but their early lead didn’t last for long when Idaho’s Colin Shea evened things up at 5:52. The Steelheads then pulled ahead with a go-ahead goal by Alex Belzile at 9:22 when his shot bounced in the air off the skate of a Reign player and dropped into the net. The first ended with Idaho leading 2-1.
The second period didn’t go any better for the Reign as the only goal scored throughout the middle stanza was from Idaho’s Patrick Cullity at 11:36. Ontario woke up during the third just in time to force overtime once again with goals from Judd Blackwater and Geoff Walker. When neither team scored during the extra time, the match went into a shootout.
The game ended in the fourth round when Belzile got past Reign’s goaltender Joe Cannata to give Idaho that extra point they needed for the win.
The weekend wasn’t as terrible as others but having to resort to shootouts on both days is something that should be avoided. The Ontario Reign will be looking to turn things around against the Stockton Thunder on Dec. 30 and 31 to get one last chance to get some more wins in before the new year starts.