The Ontario Reign ushered in the American Hockey League era in the Inland Empire with a 5-4 victory over Bakersfield in front of a sellout crowd of 9,491 fans at Citizens Business Bank Arena on Friday night.
Down 3-0, the Reign scored four goals in a span of 2:42 late in the second period before holding on to improve to 4-0-0-0 on the season.
The comeback began with a goal by Michael Mersch at 14:28 of the second. Just six seconds later, Kris Newbury pulled Ontario within one, and when Valentin Zykov scored at 15:24, it capped a 56-second outburst that turned a three-goal deficit into a tie game.
Kevin Gravel scored his first goal of the season on a power play at 17:10 to give the Reign their first lead of the night, and Zykov’s second goal of the game at 6:57 of the third period provided the hosts with some breathing room.
It was the Reign’s first regular-season home game as members of the AHL. The Los Angeles Kings’ top affiliate had spent the previous 14 seasons in Manchester, N.H., where they won the 2015 Calder Cup championship last spring.