The Ontario Reign, ECHL affiliate of the LA Kings, wrapped up their fifth regular season on Saturday night, but things aren’t completely over just yet. Following a successful defense of their Pacific Division Championship, they’ll kick off post-season play on Tuesday night vs. the Utah Grizzlies.
To conclude the season they played a two-game series with the Alaska Aces, picking up an overtime victory on Friday and losing a one goal game on Saturday. Although down 1-0 early in the first period, they repeatedly clawed their way back into things, ultimately falling 4-3.
Following the game, here’s what Kings’ prospects JF Berube and Nick Ebert had to say – plus, additional comments from defenseman Matt Clune and coach Jason Christie as well…
– Berube on the Alaska goalie grabbing the puck and throwing it down the ice at the end of the game: “Too bad I was on the bench. It’s part of the game, it was an intense game. It was just emotion.”
– Berube on if he felt stronger as the game went on: “Yeah, that’s really how I evaluate my game. I don’t consider it as a good game. I just think that there’s a lot of things that I did good, but there’s other stuff that I need to work on before playoffs. It’s more mental stuff. I have to be ready and just make sure I don’t make any mistakes, like I did over-handling the puck, giving it to the other guys. I have to make sure my passes are crisp and I’m ready for any situation.”
– Ebert (who has points in three straight games since joining the Reign earlier in the week) on his contributions: “They’re playing me a lot on the power play and stuff like that. They’re really encouraging me to jump up in the play. I don’t need to be told twice to jump up in the play. I’ll be up there if I’m told for sure. So it’s nice that they’re showing some confidence in me to get out there and make some offensive chances happen… Most of the time you have to produce if you wanna get back out there. Thankfully, I’ve been doing that the past few games. So hopefully I can just continue that through the playoffs.”
– Clune On his first goal in 25 games: “Oh man, my first home goal too. This one was home, the other one was on the road in San Fran. This one was special, we had a full barn tonight and my parents are in town too. They’re here for Easter weekend. When I scored my last college goal, my dad was in the house and I scored in front of him. Maybe they bring me some luck every time they’re in town, you know? I’m trying to convince them to stay for Tuesday night.”
– Clune on if he had a more offensive mindset coming into the game: “I think it just came to me that way. I really try to pick my spots as best I can. Sometimes I still make the wrong read and kind of get caught down low. For a guy like me, my game is one hundred percent…I have to be accountable, a defensive-defenseman and move the puck. When I get a chance to jump up as the late D-man, or if I can get to the net – especially depending on what the situation is in the game, if we’re down a goal, if we’re pressing and stuff – I really feel like I’ve come a long way where I can decide. Maybe I can sneak in behind one of the forwards and stuff. But I don’t go looking for…trying to come off the blue line and trying to look for that stuff, but I’ve definitely tried this year to make those reads and jump up into the play.”
More from Clune: “They still rely on me to move the puck, to be a threat, and to take guys away. So it just came to me that way I think. And then they way I’ve been coached and raised is driving in. If you want a goal, get to the net. That one play there, I ended up in front of the net, in the scrum and stuff. That’s the way my brother plays, the way my dad plays; that’s the way we all play. So it’s kind of just fundamentals they teach you as a young kid. Just get to the net, stay there, and follow the rebound.”
– Coach Christie on the lesson from tonight’s game: “Well, we had a couple chances. It was a hard fought game. I thought both teams came out hard for the last game of the year. We definitely have to capitalize on special teams a little more. Gotta bear down in those areas, you know?”
– Christie on getting goals from guys who normally don’t score much: “Everybody’s involved every game as far as our scoring. The guys have had success this year. Last game of the year, maybe you’re trying to go for the odd goal here and there a little more than usual. If you push for it, it doesn’t happen. Playoffs are one goal games – 3-2, 2-1 games. We certainly have to be prepared for it.”
– On double-shifting Ebert on the power play: “He’s a smart player. He’s strong on pucks, he makes the right plays. He’s a young kid, but you can see the talent in him. Any time you have an offensive guy like that on your blue line, you know why guys in the NHL get 30 minutes a game.”
– On how much of a relief getting Ebert was considering the patched together blue line: “Well it’s huge for us, because we’ve been battling that all year. But again, one guy, he has to contribute. We can’t live off it. We have to make sure the other guys are still pitching in too.”
– On if Berube settled as the game went on: “I thought so for sure. I thought he was seeing the puck well tonight. I’m sure he wants that one back there, the third one. But again, that’s something where we need to get pucks out for him. We just have to tighten it up there.”
– Christie on the team not quitting in a game that had no impact on : “That’s our team. We like to compete. You know when we’re off, we’re not competing. That says a lot about those guys in that room. They battle hard, they work hard. I think a lot of them are excited. I know I am.”
The Reign will open the playoffs at home this coming Tuesday and Wednesday. Tickets are still available for both games.
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