Ontario, CA – Forward Joel Lowry scored two goals and grabbed an assist to lead the Ontario Reign (42-18-4-1) past the Bakersfield Condors (28-27-7-2), 4-1, in front of a crowd of 9,389 on Friday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
“I think I’m starting to get my feet under me,” said Lowry after the game. “It helps to have some games under my belt now too and get a little bit more comfortable.”
In the first period, Condors defenseman Brad Hunt kicked the scoring off when he fired a shot through traffic to give Bakersfield a 1-0 advantage on the power play with 2.2 seconds remaining in the frame.
Ontario picked up the pace in the middle stanza and capitalized on a loose puck that forward Brett Sutter buried into the net to tie the score at 9:33. Forward Michael Mersch picked up his 18th assist of the season, while defenseman Derek Forbort recorded his seventh assist on the Sutter goal.
At 7:10 of the third period, forward Justin Auger broke up the tie, tipping the puck past Condors netminder Ty Rimmer on the go-ahead from Lowry. Lowry grabbed the puck in the offensive zone and weaved through defense to feed the puck to a wide open Auger. Forward Kris Newbury was given the secondary assist.
“We’re just keeping our foot on the gas,” commented Auger. “We’re not going to sit back. We’re not going to take a game off. A lot of it is going to be building momentum into playoffs during these last three games.”
Lowry netted his first goal of the night at 12:24 when he roofed a shot over Rimmer – his third goal of the season – to put Ontario up by two. Lowry tallied his second marker at 18:34 scoring an empty-netter to cap his three-point night and seal the victory for Ontario.
Netminder Peter Budaj earned his 40th AHL-leading win of the season with 30 saves on 31 shots. Rimmer made 31 saves on 34 attempts for Bakersfield.
“There’s nothing more important than being number one,” said Head Coach Mike Stothers.” There is no finishing second. Nobody remembers finishing second. It’s all about finishing as high as possible.”
The Ontario Reign wrap up the 2015-16 regular season with a three-game road trip starting tomorrow, Saturday, April 9 against the Condors at 7:00 p.m. at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, California. The regular season closes with a pair of contests in San Diego against the Gulls April 15-16 at Valley View Casino Center at 7:05 p.m. Watch the final game and wear your favorite Reign gear at Dave & Buster’s at Ontario Mills! More Information
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