ONTARIO, Calif. – The Ontario Reign fell 6-3 in a tough battle against the Stockton Thunder before a home crowd of 6,555 at Citizens Business Bank Arena on Wednesday night.
The Reign went down to just three skaters with two early penalties in the first period, and while on the two-man advantage, Stockton’s Joey Martin jammed the puck past Jussi Olkinuora. Moments later, when the Reign were still down a skater for their second penalty, the Thunder made the most of a passing play and caught Olkinuora on his heels with James Henry scoring into the open side of the cage at 6:14.
The Reign caught some bad luck with a deflected shot that sailed past Olkinuora’s glove side at 7:22 giving the Thunder a 3-0 lead, Lee Baldwin was credited with the goal. On their first power play of the night the Reign scored their first goal of the night as Matt Register launched a hard shot from the point beating Park Milner about halfway through the first.
By the 6:14 mark of the second period, Matt Bergland lit the lamp for Stockton with their third power-play goal of the night. A shot from the point was deflected in past Olkinuora giving Stockton a 4-1 lead. Sebastian Stalberg cut the Thunder’s lead in half with a beautiful shot from inside the right circle that whizzed past Milner at 6:53. Matt White and Sacha Guimond earned the assists.
Stalberg scored his second straight goal of the night with pressure in the Stockton end. The winger made the most of a cross-ice pass from Matt Register and slammed it home to get the Reign within one goal. Adrian Van de Mosselaer picked up the secondary assist on the goal.
The Thunder tacked another goal on early in the third period when Greg Miller scored five-hole on Olkinuora at 3:38. With just a couple minutes left in regulation, Olkinuora was pulled to give the Reign an extra skater. Mitch Bruijsten fired a long shot from just inside the Thunder zone and watched it slide past the crease to give the Thunder a 6-3 lead to end the game.
Olkinuora took the loss with 19 saves; Milner earned the win with 31 saves.
1. STK – Greg Miller
2. ONT – Sebastian Stalberg
3. STK – Matt Bergland