The Ontario Reign fell short in their home opener with a shootout loss to the Stockton Thunder in front of a sellout crowd at Citizens Business Bank Arena Saturday night.
The intense, back and forth game, featured a little bit of everything. There was a power-play goal, a short-handed goal, a couple fights, overtime, a shootout and even a marriage proposal.
Jeff Corey, opened up the scoring on the power-play in the first period to give the Reign a 1-0 later. Later, Eric Doyle blasted a slap shot from the point that was redirected by Corey past Thunder’s goalie Tyson Sexsmith.
Ontario’s David Walker brought the arena to an uproar when he and Thunder’s Cameron Brodi, dropped the gloves midway through the first stanza. Both players furiously exchanged overhand rights. Walker was able to get Brodie’s jersey over his head and connected with a couple more shots before the two fell to the ice.
Thunder forward Mark Arcobello, had a chance to tie the game up late in the first on a penalty shot. He came down and tried to put a move on Reign goalie Kellen Briggs, but Briggs threw a poke-check to break up the play, securing the 1-0 lead for the Reign.
The Thunder came out in the second and tied the game up early in the period. Jordan Foreman snapped a shot on net and Jesse Gimblett picked up the rebound. He wrapped it around past a sprawling Briggs, putting Stockton on the board.
However, the tied game didn’t last long. The Reign answered back a minute later to regain the lead. Matt Delahey drove the puck wide of the Thunder defense and took the puck to the net. His shot was saved by Sexsmith, but teammate Jon Francisco buried the rebound to give his team a 2-1 lead.
Once again, the Thunder tied the game back up in the third. Jason Pitton delivered the tying goal while the Thunder were shorthanded as he slipped the puck past Briggs after receiving a beautiful pass from Chris D’Avise.
After a scoreless overtime, the game went into the shootout. In the shootout, the Reign shot first and missed, but Fraser Clair scored on the Thunder’s first attempt. The next three Reign shooters were all stopped by Sexsmith. The Reigns fifth and final shooter, Chad Starling, scored to keep the Reigns hope alive but Pitton beat Briggs again to give the Thunder the 3-2 victory.
Briggs finished with 29 saves in the loss, while Sexsmith made 25 saves for his second win of the year.
The Reign will be back on the road, as they take on the Victoria Salmon Kings Wednesday at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.