The Arizona Coyotes’ minor league affiliate Tucson Roadrunners wandered into town to take on the Ontario Reign. The teams began the game separated by just one place in the standings, but by 11 total points. Mike Stothers’ team would push the gap to 13 points with a 3-0 win Wednesday night.
The Reign couldn’t have planned a better start to the contest, gaining a power play chance just minutes after puck drop. To boot, they scored a mere eight seconds into the ensuing man advantage. Michigan native T.J. Hensick found the back of the net. Just like that, the speed vanished and the division rivals began to battle for space. After swapping odd-man opportunities either way, Tucson gained a 9-2 shot advantage about half way through the period. Another late power play chance would help Ontario regain some ground, trailing by just one shot at the end of the period. Hensick’s goal gave the Reign the lead through the first frame. After the game Hensick dished on the veterans picking up the slack and Campbell’s stellar season.
On his season thus far and reaching 40 points: “It feels good it feels like it has been a bounce back year offensively for me. Last year wasn’t where I wanted to be obviously. I had a good break there on that power play. Their d-men shoot it off me and I get it all alone, it obviously gives you a little confidence for the rest of the game.”
On the veterans stepping up: “We had a meeting, I don’t know if it was a week or ten days ago, with Stusy about the older guys stepping up. Obviously we’re missing some key guys, but between me, Cres, Backs, Sutts, we’ve got to step up with guys like Vinny, Teddy and Merschy out. Feels good to help the team win, the three of us. I think we’ve all played integral parts the last couple games, but that’s expected of us. We’ve got to make sure we’re doing it every night. But sometimes you need a kick in the butt and that’s what Stutsy gave us seven or ten days ago and you’ve got to respond. I think we’ve all responded over the last week or so.”
On Campbell’s play: “Yeah he has been phenomenal for us. To play that many games in a row without a break has been huge. He seems to bring it every night, his consistency level has been great for us. We’re extremely confident, obviously, when he’s in net. I met him this summer, we skated. We have the same agent. I got to know him this summer a little bit and he’s a great kid. He’s bouncing back this year. Obviously with the trade he is looking forward to the chance and he has taken advantage of the opportunity.”
The Reign would see the remainder of their power play time pass with nothing to note. Jack Campbell, who had been put to work during the Tucson run of shots, continued to stifle Roadrunners shooters. Campbell made his 33rd consecutive start for Ontario in the contest, improving his franchise record. Just over five minutes into the period Hensick found fellow AHL veteran Sean Backman in front of the net with a pass. Backman redirected the pass behind Tucson net minder Adin Hill and gave Ontario the 2-0 lead. The assist would be Hensick’s sixth points in as many games. The Reign carried the lead through the rest of the frame and stood just 20 minutes away from grabbing their first two points of the week. Stothers spoke after the game about Campbell’s shutout and the teams game on Wednesday.
On Campbell’s second shutout: “I didn’t even realize that to be honest with you. I guess that’s pretty good, he’s had a great year for us. It’s not so much about shutouts, it’s about the wins but he gets the job done for us. As well as I thought we played in front of him he still had to make some tough saves.”
On the teams performance: “I thought it was excellent. We played exactly the way we needed to play. I thought we stuck with it for the full 60 minutes. I said after the game to Hajter ‘Why can’t we play like this all the time?’ Even if by chance you didn’t happen to win because of a bad bounce or an unfortunate call or something, you could live with it because everybody was into it, everybody contributed and everybody played the way they needed to play. I’d like to bottle that one.”
The third period kicked off with Ontario being called for an Obstruction. Manchester call up Alexx Privitera was called for a hooking penalty. After killing the penalty, Mike Amadio led a two-on-one rush with Devin Setoguchi. Amadio elected to shoot the puck and he chose right, beating Hill blocker-side high to give Ontario the 3-0 lead. The Reign would kill a late Justin Auger penalty on the way to closing the game out. Despite netting just six shots through the entire third period, Ontario held its ground and lead, taking the mid-week matchup. Campbell spoke with media afterwards about his second shutout of the year.
On the game overall: “I thought we played a really complete 60 minutes all around. Our forwards played great, our D played great. When I had to make some stops I did, but then also our D and forwards helped me out too so it’s just a complete team effort.”
On this being just his second shutout: “Yeah I mean, it’s just the way it is. It’s tough, you get to this level and shutouts are tough. I think Buds had a bunch last year but thats impressive because a couple times they’ve score with a minute or two left in the game. It just shows [that it’s] 60 minutes for everybody. Anytime you get a shutout it’s just a great game by the whole team.”
The Reign are set to see Tucson three more times in their next eight contests. Those three games will make five in 11 games for Ontario where they faced their division rival. The next time they’ll face each other is March 4th. Ontario is back in action Friday when they travel north to play Bakersfield. Ontario will be back home in a Sunday matinee, where they will face the rarely seen Rockford Ice Hogs.
Sutter – Amadio – Setoguchi
Auger – Hensick – Brodzinski
Ciampini – Crescenzi – Backman
Bjorkstrand – Shore – Herr
MacDermid – Privitera
Sharipzianov – Schilling
Wyszomirski – Leslie
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