The Ontario Reign (22-5-1-3), back-to-back Pacific Division Champions and proud affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets, defeated the Las Vegas Wranglers (8-19-3-0) 6-5 on Friday evening at Orleans Arena in a wild match-up.
Kyle Kraemer ended a six-game goal drought scoring five of the Reign’s six goals marking his first Hat Trick and surpassing the Reign’s all-time single-game goal record of four goals in a game, previously held by C.J. Stretch.
In the first period, Kraemer deked his way through the Wranglers defense and caught Las Vegas goaltender Travis Fullerton on his heels wrapping the puck around him into the open net at 3:11 in the first period. Matt White and Eric Springer earned the assists on the goal. Kraemer and Springer struck again when Kraemer skated in, picked up the puck and backhanded it over the pads of the Wranglers goalie to give the Reign a 2-0 lead at 10:28. J.T. Barnett also got a stick on the play with the other assist.
After Derek Couture was ejected from the game in the second period, the Wranglers went on the power play and converted just 14 seconds into the man-advantage; the goal came at the 8:06 mark.
Ontario faced their first penalty shot of the season at 1:20 of the second period. Michael Hutchinson turned away Adam Hughesman and play continued. Amidst numerous penalty minutes, Kraemer registered a Hat Trick with the Reign’s third goal of the evening at 13:25. Gasper Kopitar earned his first professional point with the secondary helper; Matt Register had the primary assist. Moments later, Kraemer tied the Reign’s all-time single-game goal record with his fourth tally when a rebound came off the pads of Fullerton, and the St. Louis native was there to chip it into the net giving the Reign a 4-1 lead.
Register launched a rocket from the right point through traffic and found the back of the net to give Ontario a 5-1 lead with 53 seconds left in the second period. Springer earned his third helper of the evening and Kopitar recorded his second assist.
In the third period, Jeff May was perched at the top of the crease and redirected a shot from the point past Michael Hutchinson to make it a 5-2 game in favor of the Reign. Las Vegas scored again, this time right off the draw to bring the score to 5-3 for Ontario. The goal came off the stick of former Reign alternate captain, Geoff Irwin. May lit the lamp for the second time of the evening to bring his team within just one goal of the Reign’s five with just 2:06 left in regulation.
The Wranglers pulled Mitch O’Keefe who came in relief of Fullerton in the third period. While the net wide-open, Kraemer fired a long shot that crossed the crease to set a new Reign record for goals in a single game with his fifth of the night, the Reign's sixth.
Las Vegas didn’t go down without a fight and scored with just two seconds left in regulation for a final score of 6-5 in favor of Ontario.
Hutchinson earned the win with 27 saves on 32 shots; O'Keefe took the loss with 11 saves on 12 shots. Fullerton had 23 saves on 28 shots.