1/27 FINAL - Sabers 3, Reign 5

by Jordan Driscoll

The Sabers fought hard this Saturday at Ontario Center Ice Arena, dropping a game to the division-leading Ontario Jr Reign. The game ended with three Sabers goals from Ryder Keskett, Justin Quellet, and Mario Paganini, and five from the Jr Reign. Ultimately, the Sabers' loss resulted in their elimination from playoff contention for the 2023-2024 season.

The first period was a whirlwind, with back-and-forth goals from both teams. While the Sabers opened the scoring on the powerplay, the Jr Reign piled on four goals in the opening period, the first from Amir Shakirov. A minute later, leading scorer Kaedin Larocque-Wolfe added to the Reign’s tally. Justin Quellet, one of the Sabers' top scorers, netted the Sabers’ final goal of the first, with help from Mario Paganini. The Reign scored two more goals in the first, courtesy of Ryan Howard and Kash Henkelman.

The energy had settled by the second, with only one goal from both teams, scored by the Sabers’ Mario Paganini. Paganini played well despite his team’s loss, earning points on all three Sabers goals. The Sabers took a bench minor in the second for too many men, but the Jr Reign failed to capitalize, which allowed the Sabers back into the game.

Going into the third period, the Sabers looked to tie the score up, but ultimately fell short as the Jr Reign netted themselves their fifth and final goal to end the game. The goal was scored on the powerplay by Eamon Julian. Tensions rose in the third as the Sabers tried to hang on to their structure, with two penalties on their side of the ice, and one from the Reign. 

The Sabers goalie, Loïc St-Denis-Lacombe held the Sabers in the game for as long as possible. He gave them their best chance to win, but the Reign were on top of their game, and the Sabers could not find a way to get one past Julian Arenal. The Sabers are set to clash with the Jr Reign twice more before the end of their season. 

The Sabers have nine games remaining, five hosted at Carlsbad Icetown. Following this matchup, the Sabers will head back to Carlsbad to host the Lake Tahoe Lakers, with the series spanning from Friday, February 2, to Sunday, February 4.