The Stockton Heat came up empty-handed in their quick pre-Thanksgiving trip to Southern California Wednesday night, losing to the AHL defending champion Ontario Reign 2-1.
After the Los Angeles Kings’ affiliate took the lead 54 seconds into the first period, centre Bill Arnold tied the game eight minutes later with a one-timer from the point off assists from Freddie Hamilton and Drew Shore. The draw would prove to be brief as Ontario answered with the eventual game-winner prior to the end of the period.
Defenceman Ladislav Smid suited up for the Heat as part of a conditioning stint for Calgary and finished a minus-one while left winger Morgan Klimchuk featured for the first time since sustaining an upper body injury on October 24 and recorded two shots.
"I thought Smid was okay and he gave us a good game on the backend," head coach Ryan Huska said. "For the most part I thought that all of our defense was pretty good. It was our forwards up front that were a little bit lacking. I thought Morgan [Klimchuk] was pretty good. He’s been off for a significant period of time and usually the first game back is a bit of an adjustment getting back up to pace again."
The Heat were bested by goaltender Peter Budaj, who needed to make only 19 saves to secure the victory. With Kevin Poulin scheduled to miss four to six weeks following surgery on a dislocated knee suffered during Saturday’s shootout win versus San Jose, Kent Simpson made 23 saves in his fourth appearance for Stockton.
Stockton (5-6-0-2) returns home to face the Bakersfield Condors on Friday night at 8:30 p.m. MT.