It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan, a player, a coach – or whatever – it simply doesn’t get any better than a Game 7 during the playoffs. Tonight, for only the second time in franchise history, the Ontario Reign will be tested in such a situation, when they take on the visiting Colorado Eagles in the Pacific Division Semifinals. Whichever team wins is guaranteed to meet up with the Utah Grizzlies in the Pacific Division Finals next.
During their inaugural campaign in 2009, the Reign faced the Stockton Thunder in Game 7 of the playoffs after winning the regular season’s Pacific Division title. Similarly, this year’s Reign squad won the Pacific Division crown during the regular season and will now be looking to not repeat the past when they faceoff with the Eagles for the final time in ECHL history. Beginning next season, the Reign will move to the American Hockey League and serve as the LA Kings top minor league affiliate.
For now, there is still hockey to be played between two clubs that have come to know each other quite well over the past year. Tonight’s game 7 will mark the 20th time Ontario has played Colorado since last October. Ontario took six of the 13 games in the regular season and has added three more wins in the six playoff games contested thus far. Curiously, all three of their post-season wins have come by way of a three-goal advantage or greater. Defensively, they have also only given up one goal in each of their three victories.
Per the league’s media department, the home team is 16-8 all-time in ECHL Game 7’s, and has won 12 of the last 18. Four times a Game 7 has gone to overtime, with three of those being decided in double overtime. The home team has won each of the Game 7’s decided in two overtimes, with the road team winning the lone Game 7 to end in a single overtime.
In advance of tonight’s game, coach Jason Christie, checked in with MayorsManor to share the following thoughts…
On the biggest surprise in the series:
“We definitely have to get to the net more. We’ve been playing a lot of the games from the outside and we have to get greasier a little bit more here; establish that net front presence.”
On the mood of the team coming home after Game 5 in Colorado compared to after last night’s win at home:
“You can’t get too high; you can’t get too low. That’s part of the playoffs, keeping that steady line where you’re just focused and ready to compete. When opportunities come, you have to make sure you bury them.”
On Judd Blackwater and Matt Register each scoring a pair of goals in Monday’s Game 6:
“Blackwater is a workhorse. We’ve known that all year. Regs was able to rebound after a shaky first period, and he was able to add to our win. Now, we have to come out strong tonight. They’re going to come our harder, so we have to make sure that we’re ready to test ourselves.”
On there being more pressure in a Game 7:
“Pressure? When you’re down three games to two, that sixth game is pressure. If you don’t win that, you don’t have Game 7. At some point, you just have to make sure whatever you did last night, you refocus and come out – you’ll probably have to adjust a little here and there – but, you have to have that same mentality.”
On the outlook for tonight’s winner-take-all affair:
“We have to lay it on the line, just like last night in Game 6. We have to make sure that we come out and play hard and simplify our game. They’re a team that capitalizes on opportunities, so we have to make sure we don’t give them too many of those.”
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