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Jordan Samuels-Thomas recorded a natural hat trick and Peter Budaj made 38 saves for his league-leading fourth shutout of the season as the Ontario Reign (7-1-2-0) defeated the Stockton Heat (2-4-0-1) 4-0 at Stockton Arena Saturday night.
Reign forward Sean Backman opened the scoring 12:02 into the contest with a 5-on-3 power-play goal beating Heat goaltender Kent Simpson (8 saves) with assists from forward Nic Dowd and defenseman Kevin Gravel.
That's when Samuels-Thomas took over.
The winger made it a two-goal lead with his first tally of the season at 16:41 from forwards Justin Auger and Andrew Crescenzi.
Seconds later, Samuels-Thomas redirected a shot from forward Scott Sabourin past the glove of Simpson for a 3-0 advantage at 17:04. Forward Ryan Horvat picked up the second assist.
Samuels-Thomas completed the hat trick at 2:06 of the second period bashing a pass from Horvat between the legs of Simpson from the top of the goal crease. Defenseman Vincent LoVerde picked up the second assist and his 100th professional point. Simpson would be replaced by goalie Eric Hartzell (17 saves on 17 shots) following the tally.
Reign forward Michael Mersch earned an opportunity to add to the lead with a penalty shot in the second period, but Simpson denied him with a paddle-down save.
The Reign finished the contest 1-for-4 on the power play while the Heat went 0-for-6.