Manor Reign Recap: Late Goal by Thomas Helps Ontario Beat Roadrunners

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As the regular season draws nearer to a close, and with the Calder Cup playoffs on the horizon, matchups start to become “measuring sticks” for championship hopefuls. The Reign welcomed a Tucson team Wednesday night that began the evening six points ahead of them, as they aimed to close the gap with their divisional rival at Toyota Arena.

Starting goaltender Aaron Dell needed to be sharp early to fend off a big push by the visiting team, making 12 saves in the opening period and helping keep things scoreless after 20 minutes.

The first goal of the night didn’t come until halfway through the game. Reign captain T.J. Tynan stripped the puck from an opponent leaving the zone and sprung leading scorer Samuel Fagemo on a breakaway for his 37th goal (in just 42 games).



Ontario held that 1-0 lead through the end of the second period.

Entering the final period holding a 25-0-3 mark when leading after two, the Reign saw their lead disappear 6:25 into the final frame of regulation. An unlucky bounce put the home team on their heels after they were beat by a nifty snapshot from Tucson’s leading scorer Josh Doan, son of former NHLer — and notorious Kings killer — Shane Doan.

The heated affair stood as a 1-1 tie for most of the remaining minutes, although both teams exchanged waves of chances back and forth. With only 3:37 remaining in the game, Taylor Ward rushed the puck up ice, drew the attention of two Tucson defenders, and sent a perfect pass far side to the open Akil Thomas (18) for the go-ahead goal.

KILLER PUTS THE REIGN BACK UP BY 1 LATE#REIGNTRAIN | #TUCvsONT pic.twitter.com/XAAqf3in1B

— Ontario Reign (@ontarioreign) March 21, 2024


Two empty netters from Ward (7) and Tyler Madden (13) sealed the deal, and the Reign finished the game with a 4-1 victory.

Despite the win, coach Marco Sturm described his team’s effort as one of the worst of the season and credited their success to Dell keeping them in the game by saving 32 of 33 shots.

Growing Trust: Speaking of Dell, he’s putting together a neat little run and is gaining more and more trust among his coaches. In his past six starts, the 34-year-old has a record of 5-0-1 with a .943 save-percentage and 1.67 goals-against-average, including one shutout.

Fight Club: Heavyweight Jacob Doty dropped the gloves in perhaps a scheduled showdown in the early minutes of the game. Following along, this is the third time in the past five games where a fight has occurred in the opening minutes of a Reign game, presumably to send a message and set an early tone for the game.

Power Play Struggles: The Reign continue to seek improvement with the man-advantage after falling short again on Wednesday, going 0-for-3 vs. Tucson in moments where they were starved for a tally. Over their past six games played, Ontario has converted on only one of their 21 power plays.

Multi-point Night: Thomas and Madden both contributed to the victory with two-point nights (1G, 1A each). Thomas’ 18 goals rank third on the team and Madden is tied for fourth with 13.

The Reign will play next on Friday, when they welcome the Calgary Wranglers to town. Currently, Ontario sits two points ahead of the Canadian club in the Division standings.

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Lead photo by Miles Mendez

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