Reign Secures Spot in Pacific Division Finals with Dominant 5-0 Victory in Game 3

by Jordan Driscoll

The Ontario Jr Reign took on the Las Vegas Thunderbirds this weekend, March 1st to 3rd, for their first playoff series of 2024! The Reign emerged victorious despite heavy opposition at the beginning of the series. The atmosphere was electric as fans for both teams repped their favorite players and came out to support them. 

For the Reign’s first home game, Luna and Brisa Beltran performed a beautiful rendition of the American National Anthem. The game started promising for the Jr Reign as they took an early lead in the first and second, with prolific goal scorer Kaedin Larocque-Wolfe netting his first of the playoffs, followed by Rhys Doyle. However, the Thunderbirds fought back with two goals from Ethan Riquinha and Keith Orlando. The Reign scored one final goal in the third, bringing their total to three from Tristen Friedman. The Thunderbirds netted two powerplay goals and one empty netter, from Logan Walz, Nicholas Bonaldi, and Ethan Riquinha. The game was contentious, with numerous penalties from both teams. Ultimately, the Thunderbirds played a complete game on the road and took the first win of the series. 

With their backs up against the wall, the Reign played admirably for the second game of the series. The game was largely uneventful, with only one goal scored for the majority of three periods. Both goaltenders, Josh Henson for the Reign and Michael Burgos for the Thunderbirds, performed admirably. The Reign scored on a powerplay during the second, from Kash Henkelman. The game was winding down as Keith Orlando on the Thunderbirds netted a saving goal with five minutes to go. Heading into overtime, the game was tied at 1-1. A deciding golden goal took thirteen minutes into the first overtime to arrive, on the stick of Rhys Doyle. 

Sunday night brought both teams to the brink of advancement, with an 8:30 PM puck drop at Ontario Center Ice Arena. The Reign pushed through adversity and proved their fighting spirit as they steamrolled the Thunderbirds in a five-nothing victory. The Reign’s first goal came in the second, an unassisted goal by Mason Welsh. His teammates, Rhys Doyle and Chris Lai followed soon after with their own goals. The third period brought two more from Nicholas Fiolleau and Eamon Julian. The Thunderbirds’ offense managed twenty-three shots on goaltender Josh Henson but came up empty as he shut them out. With their victory, the Reign advance to take on the Fresno Monsters on March 7-9. 

Thank you to all the fans who came out to support our Ontario Jr Reign for the 2023-2024 season, we appreciate your dedication!