Ontario, CA – The Ontario Reign (7-4-0-0) rallied late in the third period, but came up short, falling 3-2 to the Lake Erie Monsters (9-2-0-0) in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals Sunday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena. The Reign trail the best-of-seven series, 2-0 and will travel to Cleveland on Tuesday, May 24 for Game 3 at 4 p.m. PT.
In the opening period, the Monsters took control of the scoreboard at 12:28 after Lake Erie pulled netminder Anton Forsberg following a delayed call. Forward Markus Hannikainen fired the shot for the 1-0 lead with help from forwards Lukas Sedlak and Ryan Craig. Lake Erie extended their lead a mere 12 seconds later as Sedlak beat goaltender Peter Budaj down low to make it 2-0. Hannikainen grabbed the assist.
After the game, forward Paul Bissonnette was willing to expand more on Lake Erie’s strong play. “They’ve been very opportunistic; especially early in games.”
“I don’t necessarily think our starts have been terrible. They play kind of a different style than we’ve seen all year. We just got to kind of keep them off the transition … we just got to wear them down and play Kings hockey.”
The Monsters continued to dominate in the middle stanza and increased their lead when forward T.J. Tynan knocked in a rebound on the power play at 4:40 for his first goal of the postseason. Craig picked up his second point of the night with the assist. Despite outshooting Lake Erie, 9-6, the Reign struggled to find the back of the net.
Ontario’s luck seemed to change in the third period when Bissonnette scored to finally put Ontario on the board at 5:31. Forward Joel Lowry shot from the left circle, and forward Kris Newbury fed the puck to a crashing Bissonnette as it banked off his skate for his first goal of the postseason. Playing with urgency, defenseman Kevin Gravel tallied the second marker for Ontario, firing a shot through traffic with help from forwards Michael Mersch and Nic Dowd. The Reign continued to pressure hard in the remaining minutes and pulled Budaj with less than two minutes left, but could not get the puck past goaltender Anton Forsberg. Forsberg sealed the victory with 27 saves on 29 attempts.
“We’re going to remain positive. We have a bit of an uphill climb here, but we have a good morale in there and we’re excited to go on the road and steal a few,” concluded Bissonnette.
The Western Conference Finals shifts to Cleveland, Ohio for Game 3-5 at Quicken Loans Arena. Game 3 is Tuesday, May 24 at 4:00 p.m. PT and Game 4 is Thursday, May 26 at 4:00 p.m. Game 5, if necessary, is Saturday, May 28 at 9:00 a.m. Watch all the action LIVE at The Tilted Kilt in Rancho Cucamonga and tune in to the play-by-play action at OntarioReign.com and the LA Kings mobile app!
2016 Calder Cup Playoff tickets are ON SALE NOW! Grab your favorite seats for all the hard-hitting postseason action as the Reign chase a Calder Cup Championship! Black out the Bank for Game 2 tomorrow, Sunday, May 22 at 7:00 p.m. Wear your favorite black Reign or LA Kings gear! Buy Tickets
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