The Iowa Wild skated into town Wednesday night to kick off a four game home stand for the Ontario Reign. Ontario came into the game having lost four of their last five contests, and the problems did not end there. Call ups and a rash on injuries left Ontario in a vulnerable position Wednesday night. Nonetheless it would be veterans Sean Backman and Brett Sutter with a goal and assist each that lead the Reign passed the Wild 3-1.
Adrian Kempe and Paul LaDue recently called to the NHL and Captain Vincent LoVerde, Michael Mersch, Teddy Purcell and more on the shelf nursing injuries, Ontario was forced to use every one of its remaining rostered skaters.
One of those players was Devin Setoguchi, who sent down to the AHL to make room for Kempe in LA. Setoguchi was given a spot on Ontario’s top line right away. Temporarily, word was the former San Jose Shark wasn’t going to report to Ontario at all, but the rumors were put to sleep when he was present for the morning skate prior to Wednesday’s game. After the game he shared some thoughts on his performance and his goals while he is in Ontario.
On the game overall: “I thought everyone on our team played good. I looked up in the second period and I think they had 10 shots or something like that. As far as myself, I’m not going to lie, it was tough the first two periods. Five days off is tough. I felt like once I got to the third period I got my legs a little bit more and I got to move a bit more and create some chances. And that’s to be expected. Any time you take that long of a hiatus it’s tough to just jump right back in. It was a long day yesterday and I got a little skate in this morning, but you can’t prepare for a game. Even if you practice all week, when you get into a game, it’s different. By not skating, or doing anything for that matter, I thought my first game wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad.”
On if he knows any of the players in Ontario: “Yeah, I know some of the guys. I played against Hensick when he was in Colorado, I know Sutts (Sutter), I see all the guys at camp and stuff. This is a really good group of guys and we’re kind of plagued by injuries right now. We had a forward playing D tonight and he played great.”
On his goals during his time in Ontario: “Just to get back to playing. Everyone thinks it’s about points and scoring goals, but for me, I expect to score, I expect to get points, but I expect to get my game back. And be able to be effective offensively and defensively. I thought tonight I made a couple plays defensively that led to goals and that kind of what it’s all about. If you score, you score, but if you win the game that’s the ultimate goal.”
During the second frame, Ontario began to grab control of the game with a couple of strong shifts by Setoguchi’s line and a thundering hit by Kurtis MacDermid. The Reign bruiser skated in his 100th professional contest Wednesday. Just past the halfway point of the period, former Detroit Red Wing Teemu Pulkkinen snow-showered Jack Campbell with ice, and was penalized. A fake shot-pass by veteran Sean Backman set up fellow vet Brett Sutter in front of the net and the puck beat Wild goalie Alex Stalock. Backman would get a deflection marker of his own with less than a minute left in the period, giving the Reign the 2-0 lead headed into the third.
After outshooting Iowa 14-3 in the middle frame, Ontario wasted no time reestablishing their dominance to begin the third. Reign player Miles Koules, a Los Angeles native, briefly threw off the flow of offensive creativity with a tripping penalty. With about ten minutes left, the Reign turned yet another Campbell save into an odd man rush, this time finding pay dirt. T.J. Hensick carried the puck in wide and waited for the very last second to slide it over to a wide open Jonny Bdrozinski, who made no mistake. The marker was Brodzinski’s 19th of the season, tying him for seventh best in the AHL. Pulkkinen would net a late short handed marker for Iowa to break up Campbell’s shutout bid, but it was far little too late. Ontario secured the season sweep of the Wild. The win was Head Coach Mike Stothers’ 150th as a professional coach. After the game Stothers spoke about the win and having to engineer a lineup for the game.
On any win being a good win: “Yeah, but this one was really good. I thought we played the way we needed to play. Might not have been the most exciting game, but we did a good job. There were some alterations to the lineup and that changed things a little bit. I don’t think anybody was predicting that Andrew Crescenzi was going to play a full game on defense, and every once in a while take an important faceoff for us in the d-zone, and kill penalties for us up front. I was real happy with the guys and real proud of them.”
On Crescenzi playing defense: “He’s got to be the hero of the game, I mean holy smokes, he did a great job. It was crazy. We were talking about Backs (Backman), then he (Crezcenzi) made a comment to Hajter (AC Chris Hajt) that he had played defense before. So then I went in and talked to him and he said, ‘well, I was only kidding about that to Hajter.’ And I said it was too late, you’re going back there. We didn’t know how long we were going to go with it, but he did a great job. He was going back and making plays, defending well, who knows? We might have a new permanent defenseman.”
On expectations for Setoguchi: “I expect him to fit in like everyone else fits in. To bring a little offense. I’m hoping he’s going to be able to contribute like Teddy (Purcell) has. I think it’s going to take a little bit of time, it’s an adjustment. First of all to get your head wrapped around it mentally, and then adjust to the American Hockey League style of play. But, he’s got 500 NHL games, so, I expect him to bring something to the table. And he wants to get back to the NHL. In order to do so, he’s going to have to produce.”
On expectations for Kempe and LaDue in LA: “I hope he does really well. The message to him is the same as it was to LaDue when they were here. I said, ‘don’t come back.’ I tell them all that. You’re not welcome to come back, don’t come back through our doors, stay in the NHL. I heard via the grapevine, because I’m such a social media guru I saw on Twitter that he was with Kopitar and Toffoli today. So, that’s pretty good. Now is his opportunity, but he has got to make some things happen. He’s got to produce.”
Ontario was able to stave off a three game losing streak once again. The win was number 22 for Campbell, tying him for the league lead. Ontario currently sits third in the Pacific division behind San Jose and San Diego.
The Reign will host the Tucson Roadrunners Friday night for LA Kings Affiliation Night. Kings legend Charlie Simmer will drop the ceremonial puck and the Reign will don the 1996 Burger King jerseys.
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