Sabers Sputter against Jr Reign in I-15 Series

by James Karr

San Diego, CA - The Battle of I-15 series marked the initial meeting of the season between the San Diego Sabers and Ontario Jr Reign. These highly-anticipated games lived up to their reputation, delivering an action-packed experience reminiscent of past I-15 series. However, this time, the Sabers could not secure a victory on home ice, a feat they had regularly achieved in the past.

Photo by Sophia Mitchell

Game 1: San Diego Sabers 2 at Ontario Jr Reign 3

In the first matchup on Friday, November 3, 2023, at the Ontario Center Ice Arena, both teams engaged in a defensive battle during the first period, resulting in no scoring. The game saw its first goal early in the second period when San Diego's Toulec found the back of the net at 1:48, assisted by Litzinger and Paganini. However, Ontario answered back with a power-play goal by Julian at 7:06, tying the game.

Ontario Jr Reign then took the lead with goals from Friedman at 16:21 and Shakirov at 18:13. Litzinger managed to pull one back for the Sabers at 17:45, with Paganini and Weiner providing the assists.

The third period remained scoreless, and despite the Sabers' efforts, they couldn't find the equalizer. The final score stood at 3-2 in favor of Ontario Jr Reign.

The Sabers' penalty trouble didn't help their cause, with Gill receiving a major penalty for contact to the head and a disqualification for physical abuse of officials, resulting in a challenging third period for San Diego.

Shots on goal favored Ontario Jr Reign significantly, with a 56-22 advantage. The power-play opportunities were more effective for Ontario, converting one of three, while the Sabers failed to capitalize on any of their four power plays.

The goaltending duel featured Perry for the Sabers, who faced 56 shots and made 53 saves, and Arenal for Ontario, who stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced.

Photo by Sophia Mitchell

Game 2: Ontario Jr Reign 7 at San Diego Sabers 3

The second game, played on Saturday, November 4, 2023, at Icetown Carlsbad, featured a higher-scoring affair. Ontario Jr Reign struck first with a power-play goal by Larocque-Wolfe at 13:20. Still, the Sabers quickly responded with a power-play goal of their own, courtesy of Paganini at 14:50. San Diego took the lead with Frizado scoring at 18:38 in the first period.

However, Ontario Jr Reign dominated the second period, finding the net four times. Larocque-Wolfe, Koch, Lam, and Flota all scored, capitalizing on various power-play opportunities. The Sabers struggled with penalties and found themselves trailing 5-2 heading into the final frame.

In the third period, Ontario continued their offensive onslaught, with Lam and Shakirov adding two more goals. Litzinger scored a power-play goal for the Sabers at 18:50, but it wasn't enough to mount a comeback.

Shots on goal were more evenly matched in this game, with Ontario Jr Reign holding a 53-42 advantage. Ontario's power-play unit was highly effective, converting five of their six opportunities, while the Sabers managed to score twice on eight power plays.

The goaltenders for this game were Trnka for Ontario, who faced 42 shots and made 39 saves, and St-Denis-Lacombe and May for the Sabers, who combined to face 48 shots and make 41 saves.

Despite the Sabers' best efforts, they couldn't secure a win on home ice, falling 7-3 to Ontario Jr Reign in a high-scoring contest.

The Sabers are back this upcoming weekend, hitting the ice at Icetown Carlsbad on Friday, November 10, as they prepare to face the undefeated Fresno Monsters in a challenging three-game series. Secure your tickets today and be part of the action!

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