By Brenda Acuna
Photo by Jessica Harsen
Ontario, CA – The Ontario Reign erased a 3-1 deficit in the final period, but fell short in a 4-3 shootout loss to the San Diego Gulls in front of a crowd of 5,070 on Education Day at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
Reign Radio: Reign vs. Gulls Recap
Reign netminder Jack Flinn was hoping to make an impact any way he could and he did just that, opening the period with 12 saves on 13 attempts. The Reign struggled offensively in the first 20 minutes, tacking on just five shots on goal. On the other end, San Diego maintained solid control of the puck for the majority of the frame and found the back of the net on the power play at 19:12. Forward Stefan Noesen redirected forward Tyler Morley’s pass and slipped the puck past Flinn for the 1-0 lead.
Not to be outdone, the Reign came into the second period hot as forward Cory Ward scored 32 seconds in to make it a 1-1 contest assisted by forward Daniel Ciampini. The Gulls responded at 2:47, with forward Kevin Roy scoring unassisted off the faceoff to regain the advantage. Netminder Jonah Imoo replaced Flinn midway into the second period as Flinn finished with 16 saves on 18 shots. Noesen scored his second goal of the morning, chipping the puck past Imoo at 12:08 unassisted. Ontario struggled to find their momentum, but managed to outshoot San Diego, 14-12 in the stanza.
In the beginning of final period, the Gulls continued to control the pace creating several chances in front of Imoo. Ontario eventually found its rhythm and scored at 9:29 when forward Lucas Lessio fired a shot into the net off the faceoff to trim the deficit, 3-2. The Reign continued to apply pressure offensively and create chances and tied the game thanks to a beautiful backhand pass from forward Alex Guptill to forward Miles Koules who buried the puck past netminder Kevin Boyle (23 saves, 25 shots). San Diego tried to generate a few chances, but were denied by a strong showing in the net from Imoo in the dying seconds of regulation.
Reign veteran defenseman Vincent LoVerde had a close opportunity in overtime, but Boyle came away with a chest save. With 2:48 to go, the Gulls nearly scored on a three-on-one before Guptill denied the pass in time for Imoo (18 saves, 19 shots) to make the glove save. Forward Daniel Ciampini tried to find the back of the net to no avail as time expired, forcing a shootout.
Forward Ondrej Kase scored the game winner in shootout for San Diego. The two teams wrap up the preseason against each other on Monday at 7:00 p.m. at Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
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