Forward Adrian Kempe scored the lone goal for the Ontario Reign (11-4-2-0) in a 3-1 loss to the San Diego Gulls (11-7-0-1) in front of a sellout crowd of 9,491 at Citizens Business Bank Arena on Saturday night.
The Gulls opened the scoring at 4:55 of the first period when forward Tim Jackman grabbed a shorthanded breakaway, deked left and slipped a shot past netminder Peter Budaj (23 saves) for his first goal of the season.
The goal also marked the first shorthanded tally allowed by the Reign this season.
Ontario struggled to find the back of the net as San Diego killed off all three of the Reign’s power-play opportunities to lead 1-0 at the end of the period.
“We had ample opportunities [on the power play] and they didn’t work,” said Head Coach Mike Stothersin. “But we’ve had success in them all season long and the fact that we didn’t have success tonight doesn’t mean I won’t sleep well tonight.”
Shots continued to go back and forth in the middle frame, with both sides unable to score until the Gulls capitalized on a 5-on-4 advantage when forward Nick Kerdiles tucked a shot past Budaj at 10:20. Defenseman Brandon Montour and forward Chris Mueller were credited with the assists.
The Gulls tallied another goal at 15:35 when forward Antoine Laganiere banked a shot into the net with help from defensemen Shea Theodore and Shane O’Brien. San Diego closed out the period outshooting Ontario, 14-9.
At 12:52 of the third period, the Reign got on the board when forward Sean Backman chased a puck down the left circle and passed it to Kempe who slipped the puck underneath the glove of netminder Ryan Faragher for his seventh goal of the season.
Faragher picked up the win with 24 saves on 25 shots in his first appearance of the season. San Diego went 1-for-5 on the power play, while Ontario went 0-for-7.