J.P. Hoornstra, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
ONTARIO - David Walker's goal with 2:59 left in overtime lifted the Reign to a 2-1 win over the Stockton Thunder on Wednesday.
The victory allowed the Reign (18-29-2-2) to wrap up their six-game homestand with a 4-2 record. Beau Erickson made 29 saves and Shawn Collymore scored in regulation for the Reign.
Fraser Clair scored to tie the game at 1-1 with 7:38 left in the third period in front of 5,892 at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
The Reign played without two of their best offensive players, forwards Chaz Johnson and Alex Bourret. Johnson co-leads the team in goals with 16, while Bourret has a higher points-per-game average (19 points in 25 games) than anyone on the roster.
Scoring chances were not a problem for the Reign, who dressed 15 skaters, one fewer than Stockton.
Center C.J. Stretch played his first game since Jan. 29 as the team's 10th forward. He displayed a quick step, as did most of his teammates, in a first period that saw the perpetually outshot Reign outshoot Stockton 11-7.
But they had to wait until 7:43 into the second period for the game's first goal. Collymore drew contact just after releasing the puck from the faceoff circle, then tripped as the puck sailed past Stockton goalie Bryan Pitton for his 16th goal of the season.
At the 14:27 mark, the Reign appeared to take a 2-0 lead when Justin Taylor flipped in a loose puck off his backhand.
The goal lamp went off, but the nearest on-ice official immediately waved off the goal on the basis of "incidental contact" in the crease that prevented Pitton from playing the puck.
It wasn't the last contact Pitton absorbed.
The goalie left the game after he was injured in a collision at 4:23 of the third period. He had to be helped off the ice, a teammate under one arm and a trainer under the other, and appeared to favor his right leg.
Out came backup Zane Kalemba, who proceeded to get lucky.
At 12:13, Kalemba slowed down a shot but didn't see it sitting behind him on the goal line. Fortunately for Stockton, a teammate cleared it out of trouble ahead of an advancing Brett O'Malley.
The play continued the other way and finished with Clair's goal at 12:22, which was ruled to cross the goal line just before the net came off its moorings.
The game stayed tied until a penalty-filled overtime period.
The Reign were skating 5-on-3, thanks to consecutive minor penalties to Dan Ringwald and Kelly Czuy, when Walker scored the backdoor goal off a Jordan Morrison feed.
Stockton (25-15-4-5) came into the game with the upper hand in the Pacific Division rivalry. The Thunder had won six consecutive head-to-head meetings between the teams after the Reign won back-to-back games at Stockton Arena to start the season.
The teams meet for the final time this season on Feb. 27 at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
The Reign next travel to Bakersfield for a three-game series with the Condors beginning Friday.