University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman and Professor of Education Peggy Redman participated in the ceremonial puck drop to open a 4-0 win for the Ontario Reign over the Utah Grizzlies for Go Green and Teacher Appreciation Night Saturday.
The score was 1-0 after two periods but the Reign, wearing green, black and orange La Verne themed jerseys, blew the game open in front of 8,481 people during the third, including two goals less than a minute apart.
“It was pretty cool coming home and finding out tonight was a jersey night, I love jersey nights,” said Reign forward CJ Stretch, who scored his 20th goal of the season in the third period.
The game served as the second consecutive year with a Go Green and Teacher Appreciation Night in which players wore the specially made jerseys that were auctioned after the game.
“It brings the students of the University of La Verne and faculty and staff together to a common community,” Lieberman said. “Also, there are thousands of people here who know more about La Verne than before tonight.”
The Reign, currently in second place in the Pacific Division of the East Coast Hockey League, were dominant throughout the first period.
Their best chance came on a 5-on-3 power play that lasted 1:07, but at the end of the first 20 minutes there was no score.
It was almost halfway through the game Ontario finally got on the scoreboard on a power play goal by defenseman Mike Gabinet and the period ended with the Reign on top 1-0.
A little more than nine minutes into the third period the Reign doubled their lead through Stretch’s goal.
Reign left winger Kevin Estrada took a slap shot from point that passed through traffic before the puck eventually fell to Stretch’s backhand, sending the puck into the wide open net.
“Between intermissions in the locker room we talked about getting traffic in front of the net,” Stretch said. “That’s what my lineman did and he put it wide for me.”
Ontario kept the pressure after the restart and 40 seconds later a third goal was added by defenseman Jason Fredricks.
Fredricks received a pass from forward Kyle Kraemer and then quickly turned and snapped the puck on net, beating Grizzles goaltender Jimmy Spratt.
Gabinet, Fredricks and the final goal scorer defenseman Alan Mazur all scored their first goal of the season, which was 48 games old.
“It’s good any time guys get goals, it’s a positive,” Reign coach Jason Christie said. “It’s exciting for them for sure.”
The Reign, who sport the league leading penalty kill at 87.9 percent, flexed their muscles down a skater during each of Utah’s four power plays.
Ontario goaltender Jean-Francois Berube led the way between the pipes, making 22 saves in route to the shutout and was voted the First Star of the game.
“He battled hard but that’s a normal thing,” Christie said. “Everyone contributes. It’s always a good thing when guys battle hard for him.”
“We were pretty much in the zone most of the game,” Stretch said. “Our defensemen and forwards worked well together and put pressure on them.”
The Reign faced the Las Vegas Wranglers, the Pacific Division leader by a six-point margin, Sunday but lost 4-3 in overtime.
Estrada scored two goals while Kraemer extended his point streak to seven games by scoring his 12th goal of the season. Berube stopped 35 of 39 shots in the loss.
Daniel Hargis can be reached at email@example.com.