(photo credit: Dinur Blum)
The Ontario Reign ended their two-week back-to-back games against the Bakersfield Condors on a good note. On Jan. 7, they defeated the Condors 5-1 and then beat them 3-2 in a shootout exactly a week later. So far for the first month of the year, the Reign has been looking great winning all four games so far. They got the ball rolling early so if they can keep it going for the rest of the month, spring will be a piece of cake for them.
Jan. 7 win
Whatever the Reign decided had to be different for 2015 worked. They dominated the first period against the Condors and didn’t even have the chance to give any mercy in time. Ontario’s Judd Blackwater kicked off the scoring at just 0:12 of the first period and got a power-play goal not long after at 2:52 to put the Reign at an early 2-0 lead.
Bakersfield started trying to hold their own with their only goal of the night at 7:27 from Josh Currie. He passed the puck right through Jussi Olkinuora and diminished anymore hopeful chances of a shutout but that wasn’t it. Reign’s Geoff Walker increased their lead by one when he buried the puck into the net at 15:57 and gave a final score of 3-1 for first period. Condors goalie Frans Tuohimaa was done for the night and Ty Rimmer came in to take over for the rest of the night.
The second period went scoreless for both teams. Both Olkinuora and Tuohimaa knew they had to hold on as long as possible as it wasn’t going to be an easy night. Kyle Bigos kept the Reign’s lead going in the third period with a two-on-one situation with Rocco Carzo. His wrist shot sped past Rimmer at 14:01 and it gave him his first goal of the season. Blackwater finalized the “W” for Ontario with his third goal of the night at 14:48 and earned his third career ECHL hat trick. Olkinuora deserved the win with 32 saves while Tuohimaa took the loss with six saves and Rimmer with 13.
Jan. 14 win
After having a week off, a shootout isn’t the most desirable way to go but the Reign came out on top once again despite the very slow night. The first period almost went scoreless after having to kill three penalties until Gasper Kopitar snapped the puck past Rimmer at 19:12.
Both teams struggled during the second period again but Reign goalie Joe Cannata kept Bakersfield out long enough to keep their small lead alive. The third period was the Condors’ time to shine as Joe Marciano shot and scored at 8:52 and Sebastien Sylvestre came in with another quick goal at 9:19 to tie up the game.
Overtime was unsuccessful as no team scored and the always dreaded shootout was forced. Sylvestre and Kopitar both scored for their teams in the first two rounds and both goalies weren’t going to give in. It wasn’t until the sixth round when Robert Czarnik scored the game winner right past Rimmer. This gave the Reign their sixth straight victory and hopefully the start to an even longer winning streak.
Full speed ahead
The Ontario Reign don’t have time to just sit back and rest yet even though they’ve been doing exceptionally well lately. They have a back-to-back weekend duo against the Idaho Steelheads this weekend then one game against the Utah Grizzlies next week before they get a mini break again.