AHL: Reign Sent Reeling By San Jose

The Ontario Reign skated in their second game of a back-to-back against the visiting San Jose Barracuda. San Jose boasted a 10-game winning streak entering Saturday night’s action, seven of the wins coming on the road. They would push those numbers to 11, and eight on the road Saturday, handing Ontario a 2-0 loss. The game was Ontario’s third in just four days this week, and they showed signs of wear throughout the night.

The Barracuda and Reign would trade decent scoring chances on  back to back plays to kick the game off. After Devin Setoguchi hit the post from the low slot, Jack Campbell was forced to make a blocker save on a odd-man rush for San Jose. The teams swapped possession for a couple minutes, ending with San Jose player Buddy Robinson grabbing an errant puck near the Ontario blue line. He hit streaking Adam Helewka with a pass at the top of Campbell’s crease, and Helewka deked around the goalie to score. San Jose stunted any offense Ontario tried to create, allowing the home team to garner just two shots in the first 18 minutes of the period. None of the attempts was enough to beat San Jose goalie Troy Grosenick and the Reign trailed by one after one period.

The second period started and Ontario went to work on climbing back into the game. There was over a minute left on a power play chance they received at the end of the first, but they weren’t able to capitalize. Despite the fact that they didn’t score, Ontario used the power play chance to vault themselves into the swing of the game momentarily. After suffering a deep shot deficit during the first period, the Reign quickly got six in the first few minutes of the period. The Reign went as far as to achieve a 9-2 shot advantage during the early part of the second period, but San Jose would strike again. John McCarthy deflected a Joakim Ryan shot past Campbell and gave the Barracuda a 2-0 lead. Head Coach Mike Stothers would later point to this goal as one that helped take the wind out of Ontario’s sails. San Jose would bring the most dangerous lead in hockey into the third and final frame.

The third period saw the Reign continue to struggle and give up chances to San Jose, who looked like the fresher of the teams all night long. Ontario sported a 3-2-1 record against the Barracuda this season, but have lost the last two contests against the baby Sharks by a combined score of 6-1. The Reign let San Jose walk into their zone for most of the evening, creating far too many chances and second chances for the visiting team. Ontario wouldn’t get their first shot of the period until nearly 12 minutes had passed, not the best way to mount a comeback. A Zac Leslie double-minor for spearing would again hamper Ontario’s efforts to get on the board. While they did kill it off, the six minutes remaining would prove not to be enough, as San Jose would hand Ontario its third goalless game of the year. After the game, Stothers spoke about the loss with media.

On the difference in tonight’s game: “Speed. They’ve got a lot of speed. They exposed our lack of speed tonight.”

On San Jose as a team: “Our guys tried extremely hard. But when you’re playing against a team as good as San Jose, they’re the best team in our division. They might be the best team in the league. I can’t fairly say that because I haven’t seen everybody, but they’re pretty darn good.”

On if fatigue played a factor in the game: “San Jose got here at 4:30 in the morning, from Stockton. We were at home last night. We were at home Wednesday night. So, I am never going to use that as an excuse. You can write it, you can print it, you can exclaim it, you can put it across the ticker on the TV; I don’t care. That’s not an excuse I’m ever going to accept.”

Ontario will host the Tucson Roadrunners Wednesday, February 22nd, in the last game of their four game home stand. Tucson will be visiting for their second time in just five days, the first visit resulting in a 4-1 win for the Reign.

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