For the Kings’ ECHL affiliate in Ontario, they’re hoping the third time continues to be the charm. After winning their division twice before and then being booted from the playoffs in the first round, the Reign wanted this year to be different. And so far, it had been.
They swept the Utah Grizzlies in four straight games during the opening round of this seasons’s ECHL playoffs. Now facing the Idaho Steelheads in the second round, they’re facing adversity for the first time in quite a while after dropping Game 1 on home ice last night.
If you’re an optimist though, you’d have to be encouraged by the overall game. Down 2-0 on the scoreboard, they found a way to tie the game in the third period to force overtime. Despite not winning the game, their goaltender, JF Berube, played another strong game in net and looked up to the task of seeing this series go six or seven games.
On the other hand, fellow Kings prospect, defenseman Nick Ebert, admitted to not being ready for Game 1.
Here are some comments we collected from Berube, Ebert and coach Jason Christie, as they turn the page and look to even the series at 1-1 later tonight in Ontario.
– Berube on his overall play: “My goal in every game is to give my team a chance to win and I think did pretty good (in that respect). Still, I have some stuff to clean up before Game 2. We need to communicate better. I think our D pressure hard, but it’s important for us to communicate well – loud and quick. We have to clean this area up, it might save some scoring chances for them. But, overall we battled and that’s what playoffs are about, battling. No matter what the score is we have to battle to the end. So, I think we did a good job coming back.”
– Berube on keeping his composure all game: “I felt really comfortable from the beginning until the end. It was good to have two weeks of rest and just rest your body. I was focused the whole game even though I had some moments where I didn’t have too many shots. It’s always like that when you don’t have too many shots, there’s always two or three plays each period where they’re going to have good scoring chances and I think my D helped me to see the puck well and help me to make those saves.”
– Berube on the game-winning goal Friday night: “I’m not too sure, it happened quick. I think, just a bad bounce and the guy ended up having a spin-o-rama, just shot it and it hit a skate or something. I know it changed direction, so it was kind of hard for me to see as my D-man was in front of me a little bit and it hit the post. It was a typical overtime goal, those greasy goals that are either going to make you win or lose. We have to make sure we’re on the winning side next time.”
– Ebert on not looking like the same player he did in the first round: “I just wasn’t feeling really great and it took me a while to get my legs going and I think the long break had a little bit to do with that…it took me a period or two to get my legs going…But, at the end of the day I need to be better all around. I definitely need to be jumping into the play more, that’s something I lacked.”
– Ebert on the play of Berube in Game 1: “He was unbelievable tonight! I lost track of the (number of) breakaways we gave up. He was very solid, unfortunately that last one went in, you can’t really blame him for that. He put us in that position to be in overtime, so can’t really fault him by any means…We’re definitely going to have to crank it up (for Game 2).”
– Coach Christie on the overall play in Game 1: “I think we were out of sync for sure. That’s a good team over there and if you give them chances they’re going to capitalize and obviously they had a couple. We’re trying to carry the puck in, and turnover at the blue line and we’re giving them breakaways. Odd-man rushes were crazy.”
– Coach Christie on if his players were showing Idaho too much respect for the first 30 minutes of Game 1: “Well we didn’t play like men, we were just playing to get through it, I thought. Give them credit, they came out and they battled there in the third period. They started to get a little hungrier, and that’s our team that’s how they’ve played all year, we had to come and compete. You take hits to make plays and we were staying on the perimeter and you know it was frustrating and it’s a long series and some good signs here in the third period to come and play like they did.”
Two other quick notes heading into tonight’s game:
– Defenseman Matt Clune, who was a healthy scratch on Friday, will go back into the line-up. Read more about him in an article we did earlier this season here.
– Be sure to LISTEN LIVE, as I’ll be doing color commentary on the radio broadcast tonight, joining Reign play-by-play man Jesse Liebman in the booth. You can catch all the action starting at 6pm PST right here.
If you prefer, come see the game live, as tickets are still available.
RELATED CONTENT: Reign v Steelheads series preview by MM correspondent Scott Coffman
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