The Reign slowly but surely subdued the Iowa Wild Wednedsay night in their 3-1 win. Their first tally did not come until the 2nd period, when Brett Sutter scored his 10th of the season, but they dominated play up to that point. Sean Backman's goal at the very end of the period confirmed the Wild would not steal a point as underdogs coming off a thorough loss against San Diego less than 24 hours earlier.
Although the shot count was even after the first period, it was clear the Reign were going to have the upper hand in possession. It was not too surprising to see them post a lopsided +11 shot differential in the second period alone. They were so much more dominant than the Wild that they really could take their foot off the pedal in the third period and still play the Wild pretty evenly.
Per usual, the Reign got good contributions up and down the lineup. Players like Backman, Patrick Bjorkstrand and Kurtis MacDermid played more than well enough to complement the play of go-to guys Zach Leslie, Mike Amadio, Johnny Brodzinski (who scored the 3rd goal), Cam Schilling and Devin Setoguchi. Even AHL depth players like Miles Koules and Alexx Privitera had good games, considering their lack of ice time this year.
The result of the game not only revealed a mismatch of talent but an impressive advantage in team cohesiveness for the Reign. Whereas the Wild had some decent individual showings and pairs of players that worked well together, the Reign appeared first and foremost as a single unit that had chemistry and was committed to soundly pushing play in the right direction and doing things purposefully in the offensive zone. Credit must go to Coach Stothers for this. Even without injured players Zach Trotman, Joel Lowry, Michael Mersch, Vincent LoVerde and recent call-ups Paul LaDue and Adrian Kempe, the Reign continue to take it to their opponents.
Credit should also be given to Jack Campbell. Although he probably could have still gotten the win with a sub-par performance, he was very impressive and confident in his play. Aside from the goal Teemu Pulkinen scored in garbage time at the end of the game, he made 20 stops, a handful of which were quality scoring chances. What was most impressive was how easy he made it look, even when he had to slide across the crease on a dangerous one-time or recover to stop a good rebound chance. He was always in control of the situation with the shooter and never the other way around. Wendesday marked his thirtieth straight start for Ontario.
The victory puts the Reign at 25-12-8-0 and solidly in fourth place in the Western Conference. They are chasing their two division rivals, San Jose and San Diego, who have been head-head drags on their record. If they can find away to start beating these teams then there are a lot of reasons to like their chances going into the playoffs, especially because they are proving to have a lot of depth.