T.J. Berka, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/Sun
ONTARIO - Reign defenseman Mike Egener thought he put his team ahead of Bakersfield with 12:23 left Sunday at Citizens Business Bank Arena. He was just 10 minutes premature.
Egener's goal was waived off because of goaltender interference, but the Reign overcame the call to score their third victory of the weekend, a 6-4 decision over the Pacific Division-leading Condors in front of 5,099.
Egener's apparent goal, a power-play blast from inside the blue line with 12:23 left, was called off after officials ruled Robert Pearce made contact with Bakersfield goalie Timo Pielmeier. But it just delayed the eventual outcome.
"It was a brutal call and it's hard to shake it off, but we had to do it," Egener said. "Not sure what the official thought he saw there, but we were able to overcome it."
Sean O'Connor scored the game-winner with 2:41 left and center Jon Francisco provided insurance with 59.4 seconds left with an empty-net goal to cap a perfect six-point weekend for the Reign (21-25-7) against the Western Conference's division leaders.
"It was your typical Sunday afternoon game with two tired clubs," Reign coach Karl Taylor said. "I was proud of way we grinded this one out. They have built themselves a bit of a cushion while we need every point we can get right now, which I think had a lot to do with it."
Ontario scored two power-play goals, had a third removed on Egener's waived-off goal and scored shorthanded to help overcome a 3-1 first-period deficit.
"Karl keeps stressing the power play and penalty kill every practice," said Reign center Tim Kraus, who scored the short-handed goal. "At this time of year, the special teams are the key between winning and losing. We've been working hard and it's good to see it having results."
After Mathieu Aubin gave the Condors (28-18-5) the lead 87 seconds in, Bakersfield scored short-handed with 14:21 left in the first period when Adam Naglich received a two-line pass from Sasha Pokulok and scored past Reign goaltender Curtis Darling.
The Reign answered 29 seconds later while still on the power play, with Egener taking a pass from Pearce, who had three assists, and scoring on a slap shot past Bakersfield's Josh Johnson. While Andrew Ianiero's goal with 5:47 left in the first gave Bakersfield a 3-1 lead at the first intermission, Taylor felt good about how his team was playing.
"Not taking anything away from Bakersfield, but those first three goals were a bit fluky," Taylor said. "I thought we were working hard and carrying the play quite a bit better than we did (Saturday) against Idaho.