[all photos captured by David Sheehan for MayorsManor]
In Game 1 of their first round playoff series, Ontario used the momentum of three goals in the opening six minutes of play to jumpstart an eventual 5-2 victory. Then, in Game 2 on Wednesday night it was a bit of deja vu for the Reign, only it took a little while longer. This time around they posted three goals early in the second period, en route to a 7-2 smashing of the visiting Utah Grizzlies. Kings’ goaltending prospect JF Berube made 21 of 23 saves attempted and team captain Derek Couture had a Gordie Howe hat trick. However, their performances were largely overshadowed by a four-goal outburst from CJ Stretch.
Another Kings prospect, 18-year old defenseman Nick Ebert - who has been very impressive since joining the Reign last week – once again let loose with one of his booming shots, leading to Ontario’s fifth goal. Also of note was a mistake he made late in the second period, resulting in Utah’s first goal.
After the game, Berube, Ebert, Stretch and coach Jason Christie shared some thoughts with MayorsManor…
- Ebert on his turnover causing the first goal: “Yeah, for sure. First off, I should have got it deep there. Tried to make the extra play and didn’t get the pass through. They got it right up, and it went right off my skate. So, it was a turnover and an unlucky bounce. A mixture between both. But you know, I was unfortunate. But you can’t just keep looking at that. I just have to keep moving forward. I’m just trying to stay positive.”
- Ebert on how long it takes him to move on mentally from a mistake: “Yeah, it’s definitely frustrating, but you have to do your best. I guess it’s different on what kind of situation it is. I think I’ve got better the last two years on trying to put things behind me as quick as I can. Just move on, and try to stay positive. That’s the best way to do it for sure.”
- Ebert on what the coaches said on the bench: “They told me I should’ve just dumped it in right away. I made a couple of nice moves, and I was just trying to make too pretty of a play there. So they just said to get it down into the other end after I get it over the red line.”
- Ebert on his blast from the blue line that helped set up a goal: “My whole life I’ve always been counted on to have a big shot. The coaches love when I’m shooting the puck. And just getting traffic in front of the net. Keep blasting away, and hopefully they keep going in for sure.”
- Ebert on when his big shot developed: “I don’t really know. I just always had it ever since I was a kid. I just always knew how to take a slap shot and stuff like that. Recently I’ve been getting it more accurate. Important thing. It doesn’t matter how hard your shot is, if you’re going to miss the net, it’s really not effective. So that’s one of the most important things we’re trying to work on as well. Just trying to always hit the net no matter what. No matter how hard it is. That’s probably the most important thing…When I was a younger kid, I had a little shooting gallery in the basement. My mom and dad would always help me with that, they kind of setup like a barrier, so pucks wouldn’t fly off into them or anything like that. I usually tried to take as many shots as I could each day - a hundred shots or something like that. As I got older, it was just more strictly on the ice because you’re practicing every day. So it tapered off a little bit, but it’s definitely good to practice as much as you can and take as many shots as you can per day.”
- Berube on not seeing the puck on the first goal: “It happened quickly. I was kind of looking over when the puck was coming, because that’s where the puck was going. Next thing I know, it hit his skate as I was taking my second look. It went off his skate and through my five-hole. But (Ebert) apologized after. He felt a little bad I think, but it’s stuff that happens. It’s not his fault. Just a bad bounce.”
- Berube on how hard it is to stay focused after only facing two shots in the first: “They actually had four. I counted them. They missed two. But yeah, it was definitely hard not having too much action. Most of the time when you don’t have too many shots, the shots you have are scoring chances. So it’s important for me to keep my focus, and stay in the game, and just try to keep my eyes on the puck, and make those saves.”
- Berube on if his focus waivers when they go up by such a huge margin: “Of course, when you see a score like 5-1, 6-1, 7-1, you’re starting to think about yourself. You know you have to prove yourself too. It’s not because in a six or seven-to-one game, that you can give up three or four goals. You have to stay in it. Those games are important. For me, it’s my confidence. So you don’t want to give up bad goals, or bad rebounds, or stuff like that. You just keep working hard. Just like it was a 0-0 game.”
- Stretch on if the empty feeling from last season motivates him and the veterans in this series: “I didn’t have too much success personally in playoffs either. So this year I’m just focused on just doing my thing, doing my role, and doing a little bit extra too. The top guys need to play the top roles. Especially maybe some guys that don’t score too many goals gotta start chipping in too. I just need to keep going along and doing what I do.”
- Coach Cbristie on the fight that broke out just three seconds after the opening faceoff: “Well he got jumped, you know? But again…That’s…Hey I don’t know. It’s funny how the ref doesn’t see that. You know, it’s a joke, actually is what it is. But at the end of the day, all we can prepare for is ourselves and worry about ourselves…We have a game plan and we have to stick to it. That’s playoff hockey. We have keep our emotions intact and play hard.”
- Christie on the front-line players producing offensively: “Well that’s what you need, right? You need your shooters to be shooters and your muckers to be muckers. Can’t get caught in between, but again, they’re going to have down games. So it’s up to somebody else to pick it up when it’s not going good for them. We’re going on the road here. We got a pretty good opportunity, so we gotta be ready for it.”
- Christie on if Berube saw the first goal: “No, I don’t think so. It was off a turnover. Ebert turned it over there. He should have moved it before that. Next thing you know…It never fails. It’s something where we’re trying to do too much, and it ends up in the back of our net.”
- Christie on if the players might get comfortable being up 2-0 in the series: “No, we can’t. We can’t play like that. They’re going home. Like I’ve said before, they have a hard working team. If they stick to playing, it’s going to be a tough series there.”
The series now moves to Utah for Games 3, 4 and 5, starting on Friday. Should Games 6 and 7 be needed, they’ll be played in Ontario late next week. Tickets are still available.
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