J.P. Hoornstra, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
STOCKTON - If you believe in omens, Friday offered a good one for the Reign.
A 6-3 season-opening victory over the Stockton Thunder was more convincing than the final score would indicate. It was the opposite of the Reign's first game of 2009-10 - a 5-0 loss to the Bakersfield Condors - a season that ended with the Reign on the outside of the playoff picture.
Six players scored for the Reign, who led 2-0 within three minutes and were leading 5-0 before the Thunder were able to put a goal past Kellen Briggs.
"We had a quick start and a great first period," head coach Karl Taylor said. "When you get a lead like that, it's almost like you're scared like heck because you don't want to give it up."
Shawn Collymore got things started by flicking a wrist shot past Thunder goalie Tyson Sexsmith just 53 seconds into the game. That seemed to ignite the line of Collymore and wingers Jordan Morrison and Chaz Johnson - and the whole team.
"We worked hard on the forecheck and their defenseman coughed the puck up," Johnson said. "That was a good momentum boost."
Consider the floodgates opened.
Jeff Corey made it 2-0 with a highlight-reel goal at 2:31 of the first period. Skating in on Thunder defenseman Anthony Aiello, Corey went forehand-to-backhand through the slot to shake Aiello, then snuck the puck under Sexsmith's pads.
Reign center Tim Kraus missed a penalty shot at 4:32, but linemate Kyle Kraemer got the goal back at 10:23 on a simple wrister from the slot.
A deep shot by defenseman Matt Delahey snuck in at 1:32 of the second period to make it 4-0. Eric Doyle tried the same tack at 7:48, throwing a puck at the net from just inside the blue line. Sexsmith made the save, but Johnson knocked in the rebound to give the Reign a 5-0 lead.
Briggs, who blanked the Thunder in his only exhibition game, lost the shutout when the Reign defense allowed an odd-man rush that resulted in Fraser Clair's goal at 15:55 of the middle period. Briggs finished with 24 saves.
Clair scored the Thunder's second goal and assisted on the third, both in the third period, to make the final score respectable. Briggs faced just 3 shots in the first period, then 24 over the final two frames.
"That makes it a little more difficult, because you can't get into a rhythm, but it's a good sign," Briggs said. "I'll take it any day."
Aaron Lewadniuk scored the Reign's final goal at 9:34 of the third period. He and Kraemer finished with a goal and an assist. Morrison and Kraus had two assists apiece.
David Walker and Luke Beaverson engaged in separate fights with Stockton's Jesse Gimblett.