Reign get back on track with 5-2 win
Andrew Knoll, Correspondent
Forget flying fedoras, here come the teddy bears over the boards.
Oh, and forget a three-game skid, too.
The Reign snapped their season-high losing streak Saturday with a 5-2 win over the Las Vegas Wranglers on "Teddy Bear Toss" night. Many of the 7,915 fans on hand at Citizens Business Bank Arena threw stuffed animals over the plexiglass to benefit Toys for Tots after the Reign's first goal.
The win moved Reign coach Jason Christie into sole possession of fifth place on the ECHL's all-time wins list. It was his 11th victory as Ontario's head man, as he did most of his damage in Peoria, where he won 217 games.
"Obviously there's some other good coaches in the league, but at the end of the day it's about now and making sure that we're competing and winning hockey games," Christie said.
Kyle Kraemer scored twice in the final 22 minutes to break a 2-2 tie.
Kraemer's rising wrister finished an odd-man rush and it stood as the game-winning goal. His insurance marker off an extended cycle doubled his goal total on the season, which moved to four.
"I needed it, let's put it that way," Kraemer said. "I get in my own head and it causes me to think too much. My game is speed and shoot, speed and shoot. I'm a skill guy, but I'm not much of a dangler."
Chris Huxley added an empty-netter to cement the victory after some obligatory scrapping between the two sides late once the game appeared in hand for the Reign.
The five-goal night was especially welcome for the typically high-tempo Reign. During their slump, they had scored just three times in three games, an offensive output that they bested in a mere 60 minutes on Saturday.
"We want to be high energy, we want to be exciting and it's something that we just have to keep going forward," Christie said.
The Reign lost to Stockton and then dropped the first two games of this three-game set against the Wranglers in Las Vegas. The Ontario players said there was no magic formula to recapture their offensive octane, only a simple, straightforward attack.
"Just go out and play. Cycling, getting pucks to the net. I think that was the biggest thing in the last few games. Scoring doesn't have to be pretty, the puck just has to go across the goal line," Kraemer said.
Chris Cloud finished a tic-tac-toe play that tied the score at 2-all.
After a Peter Macarthur goal left the Reign trailing 2-1, the scrum that ensued left the Reign down a man for four minutes. They played two of those minutes down two men but staved off a barrage from the Wranglers that included four shots and plenty of movement.
The Reign opened the scoring exactly nine minutes into the contest. C.J. Stretch skated into a smooth pass that he hammered home from just inside the right faceoff dot to send the teddy bears flying over the boards.