The Ontario Reign could not find the equalizer late in the third on the power-play, as the Victoria Salmon Kings held on to defeat the Reign 4-3 at Citizens Business Bank Arena Friday night.
Ontario got on the board first with a beauty five minutes into the opening period. Chaz Johnson cycled the puck down low to Aaron Lewadniuk and then drove to the net. Lewadniuk walked out from below the goal line to the top of the circle and hit the cutting Johnson for a back door tip-in past Salmon King goalie, Daren Machesney, to take a 1-0 lead.
Victoria responded back with two unanswered goals. Rob Hennigar snapped a shot from the top of the left face-off circle. Matt Stefanishion redirected the shot to the far side of the net, beating Kellen Briggs to tie the game up, 1-1.
The Salmon Kings scored their second goal of the period short-handed, just 39 seconds after tying the game. Right off the draw on the Reign power-play, Ryan MacMurchy poked the puck past a pinching Reign defenseman. MacMurchy picked up the loose puck along the left boards and came in all alone on Briggs. He cut across the net on his forehand, dropped his shoulder for a fake, and then stuffed it home past Briggs for a 2-1 lead.
The Reign battled back and eventually tied the game up late in the first on a power-play. Tim Kraus pushed the puck forward off a face-off deep in the Victoria zone. Brett O’Malley caressed the puck and fired it at a sharp angle five-hole for his first of the season, tying things up at 2-2.
In the second, Victoria was the only team to find the back of the net. The Salmon King’s, Rick Cleaver, came down on a one-on-one with a Reign defenseman and tried to fire a shot on net, but fanned on his attempt. He quickly regained the puck back and threw it on net, surprising Briggs, to take a 3-2 lead.
The Salmon King’s continued to apply pressure. On the power-play, the Salmon Kings, Michael Wilson, blasted a snap shot from the top of the right face-off circle to beat Briggs blocker side for his first of the season, taking a 4-2 lead.
Ontario tried to rally back in the third, scoring just four minutes into the period. Johnson forced a Victoria defender deep into his own zone and then poked the puck away from him. Lewadniuk picked up the loose puck directly in front of Machesney, deked to his backhand and buried it, trimming the lead down, 4-3.
However, the goal would prove to not be enough, as the Victoria Salmon Kings killed off a late power-play to hold on and defeat the Ontario Reign, 4-3.
Machesney made 22 saves in the game, picking up his first win of the season. Briggs made 24 saves in a losing effort.
Ontario falls to 5-7-0-1 and snaps their three-game winning streak. Victoria improves to 7-8.
Both teams will be back on the ice Saturday night. The Reign will take on Pacific Division rival, Las Vegas Wranglers, at Citizens Business Bank Arena. Victoria will continue their road trip with a meeting against the Bakersfield Condors at Rabobank Arena.