The first meeting between the two Pacific Division powerhouses goes to Stockton as the Heat dropped the Ontario Reign 4-2.

In their first game in eight days, the Ontario Reign fell to the Stockton Heat 4-2. The two teams entered the game atop the Western Conference in points, and while they still are the top two teams, they’ve traded places with the Heat improving to 10-0-2, 22 points leapfrogging Ontario’s 10-2-0-1, 21 points.

Rookie goaltender Dustin Wolf was very good in this one, stopping 31 of 33 shots en route to his sixth win of the season.

Garret Sparks was strong in net as well, making 28 saves on 31 shots in his second consecutive start.

Game Recap

With some player movement up and down the organization over the past week, here’s how the Reign lined up:

Gabriel Vilardi didn’t waste too much time getting reacclimated to the AHL, he showed off his great hands in tight to give Ontario the 1-0 lead in the first period:

The Heat would answer back less than two minutes later on a Jakob Pelletier shot:

The first period ended 1-1 and was a pretty evenly played period overall, with the visitors holding a slight edge in shots (11-10) and a slightly wider edge in shot attempts (19-14).

Ontario struggled on the power-play in the opening 20 minutes. They had three power-plays, including a late 5-on-3 but were unable to capitalize and really didn’t generate many great scoring chances.

Special Teams would play a big role in the second period, and unfortunately for the Reign, it was the visitors who would do most of the damage.

Just before the midway part of the second, Adam Ruzicka took advantage of a scramble in front and put home a loose puck into an open net before Sparks could recover. It was the first of two power-play goals of the period for the Heat:

Nearly five minutes later, again on the power-play, Stockton caught the Reign penalty-kill sleeping and sprung Pelletier on a breakaway. Sparks was able to make the save on him, but Byron Froese would put home the follow-up chance to give the Heat a two-goal lead:

On their fifth opportunity, the Reign would finally score a power-play goal. Helge Grans‘ shot from the point was initially thought to be tipped in by Samuel Fagemo, but the Swedish defenseman would ultimately get credit:

Ontario put plenty of pressure on Stockton in the third period, outshooting them 12-8 and out-attempting the visitors 19-12. Still, Stockton did a good job of keeping most of those attempts to the outside as only five of those 19 attempts were inside the dots.

Luke Phillip added an empty-net goal on a clearing attempt to ice things for the Heat.

Shot Attempts

Ontario held the slight edge at 5-on-5, but Stockton the rest:

vs Stockton Shot Attempts For Shot Attempts Against CORSI CF%
All Strengths 50 53 -3 48.5%
All Strengths HD 14 18 -4 43.75%
5v5 33 31 2 51.6%
5v5 HD 8 9 -1 47.1%

Box Score

The full box score can be found here.

Thoughts and Takeaways

  • With Sean Durzi up with the Kings, Jordan Spence took over power-play duties on the first unit and Helge Grans manned the second. The power-play struggled tonight, but with so much time off between games, it could have been expected. That said, Grans did pick up his first power-play goal of the season late in the second. Grans also had five shots on goal in this game, tied for the team lead.
  • The goal extended the Reign’s streak of scoring a goal with the man-advantage in every game this season.
  • Vilardi’s goal was certainly a peek into what he’s capable of with his hands in the offensive zone. He had a solid first game in Ontario. It’s worth noting, he played this game on the wing and was tied with Grans for the team-lead in shots on goal (5). With his performance so far as a center in the NHL leaving much to be desired, a move to the wing could very well open up his creativity on the offensive side of the puck.
  • It was T.J. Tynan‘s first game back with the Reign after spending some time in Los Angeles. He picked up a primary assist on the Vilardi goal.
  • Frk’s seven-game points streak came to an end in this one. He ended the game with three shots on goal.
  • Another AHL game, another AHL assist for Vladimir Tkachev. He’s up to ten on the season – tied for second on the team – in just six games.
  • The penalty-kill hasn’t been great this season and it struggled again against the Heat, giving up two goals on five Stockton power-plays. The second one was one you’d really like to have back. It’s not often you see a team on the kill be as unaware as they were in allowing Pelletier to sneak behind them for a breakaway.
  • The two teams will be back at it on Monday at 7 p.m. PT from Toyota Arena and can be seen on AHLTV.

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