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Ontario, CA – Netminder Jack Campbell made 24 saves, including 10 in the first period, and defenseman Vincent LoVerde tallied two assists to help the Ontario Reign (19-7-6-0) edge the Bakersfield Condors (14-13-4-1), 3-2, in front of a sellout crowd of 9,491 on Saturday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
The win marks Campbell’s 16th of the season and holds a record of 13-2-2 in his last 17 games. Forwards Brett Sutter, Adrian Kempe and T.J. Hensick all scored for the Reign.
“I thought this was one of our better team performances,” said LoVerde after the game. “I thought it was a good game from the goal line out. I thought everyone played well.”
The Condors opened the period, testing Campbell early, but he was up to the task, turning away all 10 shots faced during the first 20 minutes. Midway through the frame, it was the Reign who took the lead in shots, 8-6 before Ontario got on the board at 11:32. LoVerde fired a lengthy shot off the draw and Sutter tipped it past rookie netminder Nick Ellis to put Ontario on the board. Defenseman Damir Sharipzianov registered the secondary assist and his first professional point. The Reign recorded a season-high 18 shots within the first period.
Overall, Ontario gave a great defensive effort, highlighted by big plays from the team captain and Campbell. “I thought we did a great job. As long as soupy [Campbell] makes that initial save; getting the puck out of dangerous areas. I thought the defensemen did a great job coming back to the dirty areas in front of the net so it was a great team effort I thought,” said LoVerde.
“We moved the puck quicker. I thought the D did a good job of moving the puck to the forwards. We played a smarter game today as opposed to yesterday. I thought we were a little slow yesterday and today was much, much better,” added LoVerde.
The Reign scoring continued in the second period on the power play when Kempe slammed the puck — a LoVerde rebound — into an empty net at 5:26. Defenseman Zach Leslie (12 assists) grabbed the secondary assist, pushing his personal assist streak to five games. Bakersfield would get on the board just over two minutes later, after Kempe was called for hooking. Forward Ryan Hamilton scored seven seconds into the power play, assisted by Taylor Beck who finished the night with two assists. Hensick scored his 10th goal of the season, tapping in a Daniel Ciampini shot that beat Ellis at 13:48.
Condors forward Anton Lander trimmed the Reign lead at 4:19 of the final frame, firing a shot from the left circle that found its way under the glove of Campbell. Throughout the period, Ontario continued tacking on shots as Bakersfield added relentless pressure. The Condors got very close to nabbing the equalizer on a hooking call by LoVerde with 24.6 seconds left, for a 6-on-4 faceoff, but Ontario came up with the victory.
The Reign tacked on a total of 42 shots, just shy of their season-high of 48. Bakersfield recorded 26.
Coach Mike Stothers agreed with LoVerde on the team’s performance. “I really liked our game from start to finish. I thought that was the best game we’ve played in a while. It was fun to watch both teams. The pace from the first period was unbelievable. Both teams were skating great hockey.”
The Reign complete a five-game in eight-day series on the road in Tucson, Arizona as they battle the Tucson Roadrunners on Monday, January 16 and Wednesday, January 17 at 6:05 p.m. at Tucson Arena.
The Reign return to Citizens Business Bank Arena Saturday, January 21 for Fire and Ice Night against the San Jose Barracuda at 6:00 p.m. at Citizens Business Bank Arena. The Reign and Bakersfield Condors clash on Sunday, January 22 for American Red Cross Day at 3:00 at Citizens Business Bank Arena. The Reign will wear special super hero American Red Cross jerseys and host a postgame jersey auction. Buy Tickets
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