Ontario, CA – Head Coach Mike Stothers clinched an AHL All-Star Classic coaching berth for the third consecutive season as the Ontario Reign (17-6-5-0) came back to defeat the Stockton Heat (16-9-3-1) 5-4 in overtime Saturday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena to take first place of the Pacific Division into 2017. The win extends the Reign’s season-high winning streak to six contests.
The Heat controlled the offense early in the game and jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. Forward Andrew Mangiapane buried a power-play goal past Reign netminder Jack Campbell (W, 21 saves on 25 shots) at 10:35 and defenseman Brett Kulak buried a loose puck in a goal-crease scramble at 16:33. Forward Sean Backman cut the lead in half at 18:10 catching a pass from defenseman Rob Scuderi (200th professional point) and lifting a shot over the glove of Heat goalie Jon Gillies (OTL, 33 saves on 38 shots).
Reign forward Jonny Brodzinski reset the contest on the power play at 6:49 of the second period, smacking a Mike Amadio pass under the blocker of Gillies off the left post. Forward T.J. Hensick added the second assist to send his personal point streak to seven games (two goals, 10 assists). Moments later, Stockton pushed back in front on a second Mangiapane man-advantage marker 8:36 and reclaimed the momentum and a two-goal lead at 15:31 with a tally from rookie forward Mark Jankowski.
Late in the third period, the Reign started the comeback as the Heat’s Ryan Lomberg was flagged for a high-sticking and slashing call for a four-minute Reign power play at 14:43. Forward Teddy Purcell capitalized six seconds into the first opportunity lifting a wrist shot from the blue line through a screen and past the glove of Gillies to send his point streak to seven games (three goals, seven assists). Forward Adrian Kempe struck on the second half of the double minor at 16:04 to make it 4-4, reignite the crowd and force overtime.
In their league-leading 12th overtime appearance, Backman found forward Brett Sutter for a tap-in tally at 1:59 to complete the Reign comeback. The Reign finished the game 3-for-6 on the power play while the Heat went 2-for-4.
The Reign are back in action on Saturday, January 7 for the Outdoor Classic against the Bakersfield Condors at Memorial Stadium in Bakersfield, California at 6:00 p.m. Buy Tickets
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