J.P. Hoornstra, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/Sun
ONTARIO - The Idaho Steelheads held the best record in the Western Conference, had won four of their last five games, and were the victors in their only game at Citizens Business Bank Arena this season.
The Reign had the worst record in the Western Conference, had lost five of six, and were coming off the most lopsided loss in franchise history.
And yet it was the Reign who came out on the good side of a 4-1 result before 5,034 on Friday. The Reign (19-25-3-4) improved to 3-2 in the season series against the Steelheads (34-11-0-4), who return to The Bank at 6 p.m. today.
Prior to the game, the Reign traded Sal Peralta to the Toledo Walleye for future considerations. The forward had one assist and two penalty minutes in six games this season for the Reign, who acquired Peralta from the Kalamazoo Wings for Jon Landry on Jan.6.
Those who remained in Reign uniforms spent Friday night proving they don't want to be the next player to leave.
The first period, however, resembled many of the bad starts the Reign have suffered recently. They were outchanced, outshot 12-5, and fell behind a goal just 2:09 into the game. Adam Huxley made a nifty backhand pass from the right faceoff circle to Michael Neal, standing behind goaltender Curtis Darling, for the easy tip-in.
The Reign made up for the lackluster effort with a strong second period.
Defenseman Andrew Martens made a pair of hustle plays to trigger a pair of goals, the first of which came at 11:14 when Martens stretched to keep a puck in at the blue line. He tapped the puck to Greg Hogeboom, who boomed a long shot past Idaho goaltender Rejean Beauchemin.
Hogeboom's team-leading 23rd goal extended his team record for most goals in a season.
Only 91 seconds later, the Reign took the lead after Martens chased down another puck, this one headed for the corner to Beauchemin's left. He tapped the puck to Tony Voce, who found Michael Pelech wide open in front of the net for an easy goal, Pelech's seventh this season.
The score remained 2-1 until 14:15 of the third period, when the Reign got a fortunate bounce in the crease during a 5-on-4 power play. A centering pass from the corner by Jon Francisco pinballed off a couple sticks in the crease before landing on Peter Lenes' backhand.
The Reign forward swiped at the puck and it slid under Beauchemin's pads, his 12th goal of the season, to make it 3-1. It proved to be the Reign's only power-play goal in four man-advantage shifts; they killed all six Steelhead power plays in the game.