J.P. Hoornstra, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
As captain of the Reign, it's Jon Francisco's job to keep a pulse on the mood in the locker room.
So how was the mood Sunday, after the worst loss in team history?
"Well, not the best," he said with a slight chuckle.
If the bus ride home from Bakersfield after a 7-0 loss to the Condors seemed longer than usual, it's understandable. Not only had the Reign never lost by a seven-goal margin, they had never lost three games on consecutive days before last week, which included losses to the Thunder in Stockton Friday (5-0) and at home Saturday (3-2).
The tight scheduling didn't do the Reign any favors - they boarded a bus for Bakersfield immediately after Saturday night's game in advance of the 2 p.m. start time Sunday. But their opponents were on the same kind of travel schedule. The Condors also played Saturday night, and the Thunder had to bus from Stockton to Ontario after Friday night's game, too.
"You can say what you want, make excuses, but in the end we just didn't perform," Francisco said.
The Reign (18-25-3-4) still sit in the National Conference cellar with 22 games left in the regular season. Since they're only four points behind the Las Vegas Wranglers for the conference's final playoff berth, there's plenty of time to make up ground.
Francisco said the team still has faith in its system and its talent.
"When there isn't faith, that's when all hell breaks loose. I don't think all hell has broken loose yet," he said. "I don't think it will, either, with the character we have in the room."
Asked about the difference between this season and last, the captain pointed to the team's 6-9-3-4 record in one-goal games. Last season the Reign were 21-6-3-3 in games decided by one goal, which lends credence to the theory that they haven't been getting the same bounces as last year.
"That's how the game started for us (Sunday) - the puck jumped off the end boards, right onto (Matt Pope's) stick in front of the net," Francisco said.
He's hoping for more friendly bounces at home, where the Reign will play their next nine games.
"I'm excited for it," he said. "The fans are huge for us. When they're still on our side, still pushing for us, that's a big thrill."
Bud Holloway took over the team lead in scoring with four assists in three games last week for the American Hockey League's Manchester Monarchs. Three of his helpers came in one game Friday against the Springfield Falcons. The left wing now has 15goals and 37 points in 52games for the Monarchs.
Three other former Reign forwards got on the scoreboard last week in Manchester. Dwight King had a goal and an assist, Geoff Walker had an assist, and Jon Rheault scored his second short-handed goal of the season.
Defenseman P.J. Atherton had a goal and two assists in two games last week for the Hanover Indians of the German Bundesliga.
Defenseman Shawn Germain (wrist) was transferred from 3-day to 7-day injured reserve Monday. ... "Pink at the Rink" day is Saturday. The first 500 women in attendance will receive a Pink Toyota Hat and players will be wearing the pink-tinged jerseys benefitting Stater Bros. Charities and Inland Women Fighting Cancer. The players will also use pink sticks. ... Saturday's game against the Idaho Steelheads will start at 6 p.m. to accommodate the Cal State Fullerton vs. Long Beach State game immediately afterward. Tickets to the Reign game are good for admission to the second. ... Steven's Hope for Children is hosting a "new and gently used" clothing and toy drive before the game against Idaho. Each fan who brings a donation to the designated drop-off points outside the arena will receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win a stick signed by the team.