Thunder Bring Down The Reign
J.P. Hoornstra, Staff Writer
San Bernardino Sun
ONTARIO - The Reign lost on Saturday night and it wasn't pretty, at least not on the surface.
But coach Karl Taylor's troops weren't hanging their heads after falling 3-2 in overtime to the Stockton Thunder, before 6,271 at Citizens Business Bank Arena who came out for Military Appreciation Night.
"It was a great hockey game," Taylor said. "Their team played hard, we played hard. Anytime you're in the third (period) and you're behind and you can earn a point (in the standings) that's a really good point to earn."
The coach said the Reign (7-4-1-1) didn't deserve to win the first two games on their current three-game homestand, but rather they got lucky in one-goal wins over Stockton on Wednesday and Bakersfield on Friday.
But Saturday's game was different, despite the fact the Reign still haven't outshot an opponent this year through 13 games and despite Cleve Kinley's goal 1:50 into overtime to win it for Stockton (5-5-0-2).
"We wanted to win but in the bigger picture, it was a good battle for us and I think we played a better game tonight than we did last night," said Jon Francisco, who accounted for both Reign goals, his team-leading sixth and seventh of the season.
Francisco, who was appointed team captain a day earlier, opened the scoring three minutes, 25 seconds into the game on a close-range goal past Stockton goalie Andrew Perugini.
But the captain immediately received a cross-check to his upper back, was
slow to get up and spent the rest of the first period in the trainer's room. Francisco said the cross-check aggravated back spasms that had plagued him earlier this season, then mustered the strength to play the final two periods.
"I was fortunate to be able to battle through it and keep playing," he said.
Defenseman Ryan Constant scored his first two goals of the season for Stockton. The first came 10:54 into the opening period, on a slapshot from the left point that sailed through a crowd in front of Reign goalie Jeff Zatkoff.
The game remained 1-1 until 7:53 of the second period, when Constant was the beneficiary of a wild play in front of the net. The defenseman was the only player not scrumming the Reign's crease for a loose puck when it trickled out to the left faceoff circle, where Constant ripped it past Zatkoff.
The Thunder were able to control the zone the remainder of the second period, and seemed to be on the verge of scoring as the Reign couldn't get their offense going. But Zatkoff wasn't flustered.
"I think that's how the majority of our games are," said Zatkoff, who took his first overtime loss of the season. "We're so good defensively as a core to protect the middle of the ice, we give up a lot on the outside. We'll let teams dangle around the outside because if we can keep them outside we're in good shape."
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