Peter Budaj recorded his league-leading sixth shutout making 21 saves and Michael Mersch scored his team-leading 14th goal of the season as the Ontario Reign (25-10-3-1) beat the San Diego Gulls (19-18-1-1) 2-0 at Valley View Casino Center Friday night.
Physical play between the two rivals escalated quickly in the contest as Reign Kurtis MacDermid and Gulls blueliner Stu Bickel dropped the gloves just over six minutes in.
As the clock ticked down, Mersch put the Reign up 1-0 by forcing a turnover and burying a shot past the glove of Gulls netminder Matt Hackett (28 saves) with 5.4 seconds left.
Defenseman Jeff Schultz doubled the lead on the power play early in the second period, stickhandling around Hackett for his second goal of the season at 5:52. Forwards Adrian Kempe and Nic Dowd added assists.
In the third period, the Reign defense held the Gulls to just six shots to seal the victory.
The Reign finished the contest 1-for-4 on the power play while the Gulls went 0-for-3.
Three Stars of the Game
3. Kyle Clifford
2. Michael Mersch
1. Peter Budaj