San Diego Sweep, OJR Claim Lead in Pacific Race

by Sebastian Abdon Ibarra

The Ontario Jr Reign (28-6-0-1) completed a two-game sweep of rival San Diego Sabers (10-25-1-0) over the weekend. The two wins now push Ontario’s record to 4-0 against San Diego this season and propels them two points ahead of Fresno for first place in the Pacific division. 

The Jr Reign dominated in game one by a score of 10-2, scoring nine unanswered goals after the Sabers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first 40 seconds of the game. 

Kaedin Larocque-Wolfe collected his fourth hat trick of the season while Jett Koch continued his recent hot streak with two more goals to give him five in his last three games and 10 points overall in that span. Edward Pukhalsky also had a big night, the local product scored a pair of goals off of hard-working efforts on the forecheck with his linemates during the second period. 

It was a big night for the fundamentals as Ontario controlled the puck, outshot the Sabers by 21, and converted half of their power plays. 

Julian Arenal picked up the win and extended his unbeaten streak in 2024. Arenal made 28 saves and limited a dangerous San Diego attack to just two goals. The second-year OJR goaltender has continued to improve upon his GAA and save percentage from a season ago. 

In the final game of the series, the Jr Reign traveled south to Carlsbad and earned a hard-fought road win. Tristen Friedman powered Ontario to the comeback victory with two huge goals late in the third period. 

Facing a 3-2 deficit halfway through the third period, Friedman came through with a huge equalizer to breathe some life back into the Jr Reign. Linemates Larocque-Wolfe and Rhys Doyle assisted in the play. Immediately after Friedman’s goal, Tristan Lam and Jett Koch connected off the face-off from center ice to catapult the OJR to a 4-3 lead.  However, the pesky Sabers would not relent and tied the game with their goalie pulled with less than 2 minutes remaining.  

In the final minute of regulation, Friedman caused a turnover in the neutral zone, raced into the Sabers zone, and buried the puck from a tough angle on the rebound after his first shot was denied for the game-winning goal.  

It was a big weekend for the Reign's top line of Doyle, Friedman, and Laroque-Wolfe as they combined for a total of 16 points in only a pair of contests. 

Chris Lai would add one more into the empty net in the final seconds to ensure the team’s winning streak was extended to six. 

The Jr Reign returns to Ontario Center Ice Arena on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 8:25 p.m. to play these same San Diego Sabers once again. Mayor Paul Leon of Ontario will be performing the ceremonial first puck drop. The game will feature musical guest Micah Lee & The Justice, food options from Bubba's Tasty Tacos, and a bar serving Firewater beverages.

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