ONTARIO, Calif. – The Ontario Reign (14-5-1-0), defending Pacific Division Champions and proud affiliate of the NHL’s 2012 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, fell 4-3 in overtime to their Western Conference rivals, the Alaska Aces (16-5-0-0) before a crowd of 7,966 on Saturday.
After a scoreless first period, the Reign took a 2-0 lead with a pair of quick goals to start the second. Derek Couture crashed the net after Devin Setoguchi’s shot. The puck squirted out from under the pad of Alaska goaltender Gerald Coleman and Couture swept it across the goal line. Kyle Clifford made it 2-0 at 1:01 as he fought off Alian Gouletand and carried the puck across the top of the Alaska crease before spinning around and firing a wrist shot into the top right corner of the net.
Nate Thompson cut Ontario’s lead in half as he snapped Alexandre Imbeault’s rebound into the net at 10:23. Miscommunication led to the tying goal by Zach Harrison at 13:34. JF Berube left the puck behind his net, but each Reign defender thought the other would take it, allowing Harrison to nab the puck and score with a wraparound.
The Reign jumped back in front with 55 seconds left in the period on Kyle Kraemer’s 5th goal of the season. Coleman came out to cut down the angle on Matt Clune’s shot from the top of the circle but gave up a long rebound to Kraemer who slapped the puck into a wide-open cage to make it 3-2.
Both goaltenders were challenged in the third. Coleman stopped Clifford on a breakaway and Berube came up big on doorstep chances by Imbeault and Joey Crabb. Tommy Mele finally broke the stalemate as Berube went to the ice to make a save on Jarred Smith and Mele was there to take advantage of the rebound at 11:12 to tie the game 3-3. The score held and the game went to overtime.
The teams made a couple of rushes up ice, but it was Kane Lafranchise’s shot at 1:02 that sent the Aces to their 5th consecutive victory.
Berube stopped 20 of 24 shots for only his 3rd loss of the season while Coleman earned his 4th win with 22 saves on 25 shots.
1. AK – Kane Lafranchise
2. AK – Jarred Smith
3. ONT – Kyle Kraemer
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