Forward Valentin Zykov scored twice and the Ontario Reign (4-0-0-0) erased a three-goal deficit to defeat the Bakersfield Condors (1-3-0-1) 5-4 on Opening Night in front of a sellout crowd of 9,491 at Citizens Business Bank Arena Friday night.
The Condors jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first period behind goals from forwardsAndrew Miller (5:28) and Kale Kessy (6:47). Miller picked up a loose puck inside the Condors’ defensive zone and burst down the right wing to send his second goal of the season past Reign goaltender Peter Budaj (W, 25 saves on 29 shots). Kessy made it a two-goal advantage by capitalizing off a Reign turnover between the faceoff circles.
Condors forward Joshua Winquist carried the scoring into the second period burying a feed from defenseman Joey LaLeggia over the outstretched glove of Budaj at 8:43. The Reign rallied by scoring four goals in under three minutes to swing the lead around.
Forward Michael Mersch started the comeback at 14:28 slipping a shot past Condors goaltender Ben Scrivens(28 saves on 33 shots) from the right-wing circle. Seconds later, forward Kris Newbury tipped in his third goal of the season at 14:34. With momentum building, forward Andrew Crescenziled the offensive rush down the right-wing and found forward Valentin Zykov for the easy maker at 15:24. Defenseman Kevin Gravel completed the comeback on the power play rifling a drive from the blue line over the glove of Scrivens at 17:10.
Zykov buried his second goal of the game 6:57 into the third period after forward Nic Dowdand Michael Mersch forced a turnover below the Condors’ goal line. Bakersfield pulled the contest back within one late in the frame as forward Jujhar Khaira tucked a rebound past Budaj at 17:17.
The Reign finished the game 1-for-3 on the power play while the Condors went 0-for-3.