The Ontario Reign could not protect the castle, as the Pacific Division rival, Las Vegas Wranglers, defeated the Reign at Citizens Business Bank Arena Saturday night, 4-1.
The Wranglers drew first blood late in the first with 1:11 remaining in the period when right winger Vince Bellissimo picked up the puck just below the right face-off dot, and skated in with speed on Ontario goalie Kellen Briggs. Bellissimo faked his shot, causing Briggs to move out of position, and took the puck behind the net. Briggs tried to scramble back to the far post but Bellissimo scored on a wrap-around, taking the lead 1-0.
Las Vegas scored their second goal early in the second period on the power-play after center Tyler Mosienko won the draw deep in the Ontario zone. Ned Lukacevic picked up the puck and set up on the right boards. Nothing seemed to be developing, so Lukacevic walked in and fired it short side and beat Briggs on the high glove side to give the Wranglers a 2-0 lead.
In an attempt to shift momentum, Ontario forward Chaz Johnson brought the crowd of 6,471 back in the game when he and Dan Bertram dropped the gloves with less than two minutes remaining in the second. Johnson got the better of the exchanges, catching Bertram in the nose and drawing blood.
However, Las Vegas continued to apply pressure to Ontario. In the third, Wranglers forward Justin Bernhardt skated behind the Reign net and found and open Blake Gallagher in the slot. Gallagher one-timed Bernhardt’s pass far side past Briggs, taking a 3-0 lead.
The Reign finally got on the board halfway through the third period to ruin the shutout. Ontario forward Pierre-Andre Bureau drove the puck hard down the right wing boards and threw a shot on net. Wranglers goalie Joe Fallon made the initial save, but Shawn Collymore, picked up the rebound and buried it to cut the lead back down to two.
The Reign tried to tie the game up late in the third by pulling the goalie for the extra-attacker. But Lukacevic ended any comeback chance, shooting the puck into the empty net for his second of the night to secure the 4-1 victory.
Fallon turned aside 23 shots for his second win of the season. Briggs stopped 19 shots in his seventh loss of the season.
With the loss, the Reign falls to 5-8-0-1. The Wranglers improved to 7-4-1. Ontario has yet to give the home crowd a win as they are now 0-4-0-1 in front of the Reign faithful.
Ontario will play their next three-games over Thanksgiving weekend. They will take on the Wranglers again Friday and Saturday night they will take on the before they square off with the Utah Grizzlies on Sunday.