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Ontario, CA – Netminder Jeff Zatkoff made 28 saves in his first win as the Ontario Reign (29-15-8-0) held on to beat the Stockton Heat (22-23-4-1), 2-1, on Friday evening at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
The 179-pound netminder held off a furious Heat push, especially in the second period where he blocked 12 of 13 shots.
Head Coach Mike Stothers thought the veteran backstop had a solid performance. “He had a couple of really good saves there in the end with his pad, said Stothers. “Zats is looking to prove himself as far as his play … I think he and Campbell complement each other well and I think it’s a good position for us to be in to have two guys that we can rely on and count on.”
Defenseman Alex Lintuniemi broke open the scoring in the first period, burying a Vincent LoVerde rebound at 2:44 for his first AHL goal of the season. Forward Joel Lowry picked up the secondary assist. Forward Michael Mersch netted his 12th tally of the season at 7:35, redirecting a Kurtis MacDermid shot to make it 2-0.
Stockton got on the board in the middle frame when defenseman Kenney Morrison fired a shot through heavy traffic to beat Zatkoff at 2:45. Forwards Andrew Mangiapane and Linden Vey registered the assists. Looking for the equalizer, the Heat played a very physical period as did the Reign to keep them off the board. Both teams went 0-for-3 on the power play in the second stanza alone.
Zatkoff frustrated Stockton with nine stops in the third period, and the Reign held on to win their 29th victory of the season. Heat netminder Jon Gillies made 23 stops in the loss.
Celebrate the weekend with the Reign tomorrow Saturday, March 4 as they host the Tucson Roadrunners at Citizens Business Bank Arena at 6:00 p.m. Buy Tickets
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