The series was gridlocked at a game a piece as game 3 of the first round series between Ontario and San Jose Barracuda was set to start. But from the get go, the Barracuda were swimming upstream, and Ontario cruised their way to a seemingly easy 3-1 victory.
It was clear early Thursday night that this particular game would be the most suffocating performance to date. Evidenced by the lofty shot on goal advantage for Ontario, which ended the first with a 14-4 lead in that department.
One of those shots came off the stick of Big Mike Mersch, who made a poewrful half-spin move and sent one toward the crease. Johnny Brodzinksi was also crashing the net, but Adrian Kempe was Johnny on the spot and tipped the puck over Aaron Dell to give the Reign a 1-0 lead.
“He’s one of those playoff guys,” said Coach Mike Stothers of Kempe. Stothers reminded us that Kempe stepped his game up last year in the AHL for the Manchester Monarchs, “he seems to like the playoffs.”
“It was a good game for me,” said Kempe afterwards. He netted a second goal in the 3rd period with a shot labeled for the top corner of the net. Kempe’s lethal release would have beat many NHL goaltenders.
Kempe played center and said that being able to swing low on the break out and get the puck in the middle of the ice are some things that allowed him to be successful on Thursday.
Nic Dowd added the second Ontario goal on the powerplay early in the second period. They earned the powerplay when Sean Backman was boarded by San Jose forward Trevor Parkes. For Dowd it was payback as Dell stopped Dowd earlier in the game on a penalty shot, but Dowd found the opening and capitalized on a rebound while posted in the slot.
Dowd was easily one of the difference making players on the ice during game 3, his reputation as a big game player has been well earned. As always, Dowd continued to deflect the praise to his teammates commenting on their ability to push the puck through the neutral zone to create chances offensively.
Kings prospect Mike Amadio fresh off his 50 goal season for the North Bay Battalion took part in his first AHL game. It wasn’t very noticeable that it was Amadio’s first professional game as he made intelligent defensive plays throughout the game and chipped in by controlling the puck in the offensive zone. On one shift in the third period he stole the puck from three different San Jose players to keep it in the offensive zone which lead to a defensive zone penalty on san Jose.
Game 4 is Friday night back at Citizen’s Business Bank Arena. Ontario has a chance to clinch the best of five first round series. With some veteran players like Andrew Crescenzi and Ryan Horvat on the mend, the team would welcome some extra days off awaiting the winner of the San Diego Gulls and Texas Stars series, where San Diego holds a 2-1 lead as well.
Michael Mersch – Adrian Kempe – Johnny Brodzinski
Brandon Sutter – Nic Dowd – Sean Backman
Jordan Samuels-Thomas – Mike Amadio – Justin Auger
Paul Bissonnette – Kris Newbury – Joel Lowry
Kurtis MacDermid – Vincent LoVerde
Derek Forbort – Kevin Gravel
Jeff Schultz – Kevin Raine
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