Shel Segal, Fontana Herald
It is rare that you will ever see a 6-on-3 offensive attack in a hockey.
It is even rarer that despite the three-man advantage, the Ontario Reign could not score the game-tying goal in the final two minutes against the Bakersfield Condors Sunday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena, falling, 3-2, to the ECHL Pacific Division leaders.
What happened was after Tony Voce scored at 17:17 in the third period by redirecting a long slapshot from defenseman David Walker to make it a one-goal game, Bakersfield suffered two penalties back-to-back with just under two minutes to play.
Couple that with the Reign pulling goalkeeper Curtis Darling and Ontario had its three-man advantage.
However, shot after shot was stopped by Condor goalkeeper Timo Pielmeier, who ended the night with 26 saves, and the Reign wasted this prime opportunity to send the match into overtime.
Reign coach Karl Taylor was not at all pleased with the way the team played early on against the Condors.
“We didn’t play well for two periods,” Taylor said. “We were absolutely horrendous. (Bakersfield) won the battle. They played well in the neutral zone. But today we didn’t have our mental mindset.”
He was happy, however, that his team didn’t quit.
“I am proud of our team of how we pushed back and really battled,” he said. “We could have easily given up.”
A TESTIMENT TO THE FLOROUSHING of hockey in Southern California, the Reign now have the highest average attendance in the ECHL after 6,589 fans turned out to see Ontario battle the Condors on Dec. 16 at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
In just its second season in existence, the Reign have now passed the Stockton Thunder, which has finished first the past four seasons in average attendance, much to the delight of Reign General Manager Justin Kemp.
“This is absolutely awesome,” Kemp said. “It’s been our goal since the team’s inception – to be the league’s leader in attendance. We’re working very hard to maintain that top spot and grow the fan base. The biggest thing we can attribute this to is word of mouth. People come here and love it and tell their friends and family. That’s how you grow it.
James Collins, the Reign’s vice president of ticket sales/services, also weighed in on the team’s success at the turnstiles.
“It is a tremendous honor and accomplishment to be number one in the ECHL’s average attendance,” Collins said. “Teams like Stockton and Toledo have done a tremendous job and we’ll have to work hard to keep the number one spot the remainder of the season.”
As of Dec. 16, the Reign were averaging 5,896 fans per game.
IN MORE HOCKEY NEWS, the Reign will be hosting its second annual Police Appreciation Night at 7 p.m. on Jan. 13 as the team will, once again, be taking on Bakersfield at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
The Reign will be honoring the men and women from Inland Empire communities who put their lives on the line everyday to keep everybody safe with $10. With the purchase of that ticket, $4 of it will go to a local Inland Empire charity.
Police officers from all over Southern California are welcome to come out and support this great charity event.
Shel Segal is president of Arcadia, Calif.-based Segal Communications and a reporter/columnist for the Fontana (Calif.) Herald News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.