The Ontario Reign are leaving San Diego with a 3 – 1 series lead after defeating the San Diego Gulls in overtime on a goal by rookie forward Mike Amadio, after the Reign mounted a third-period comeback among a flurry of goals that would lead the teams into overtime.
A scoreless first period between the clubs was anything but dull as within a minute thirty, Reign enforcer Paul Bissonnette plowed Gulls Andy Welinski into Gulls goaltender Matt Hackett, setting off a flurry of punches and setting the tone for what would be a hard hitting, aggressive game. Hackett managed to stay in the game, but Bissonnette remained a thorn in the side of the team throughout the entire till.
The second period didn’t much change in the action until the Gulls caught a break on a double minor for high sticking against Reign forward Kris Newbury allowing the Gulls to set up in the offensive zone before defenseman Shea Theodore powered a shot past Peter Budaj from the point. The chances for the Reign increased towards the end of the period but continued net crashes intensified the animosity between the clubs resulting in a myriad of penalties that scrums that brought the teams right up to the buzzer, ending the period with gloves and helmets all over the ice.
Starting the third period on the power play from a cross-checking penalty after the second-period buzzer, the Gulls failed to increase their lead. The period was a lot less physical than the previous two, something Head Coach Dallas Eakins noticed in his post-game interview. “I tell you what, for two teams who pride themselves on their checking that third period was as wide open as a track meet as I have seen,” Eakins said. The lack of hits, however, did now slow down the movement of the puck and the wide open play seemed to tilt the ice in the Reign’s favor.
The momentum moving to their side, the Reign eventually found some puck luck as a breakout left them wide open to carry the puck into the offensive zone and forward Nic Dowd buried a wrist shot above Hackett’s shoulder, tying the game up with 16 minutes remaining. The teams traded a total of four goals in a span of 3 minutes halfway through the period with Gulls Chris Mueller deflecting a puck into the net immediately answered by Reign forward Adrian Kempe. Kempe struck again moments later but the Reign’s first lead of the game was foiled 12 seconds after when Mueller netted his second goal of the night as well. An injury to Gulls defenseman Stu Bickel during the scoring frenzy changed the Gulls dynamic and the game began to slowly slip away from them as they had trouble getting the puck down the ice and spent a lot of time on the defensive side of things. They managed to hold off the Reign through the remainder of the period.
Overtime began with the Reign coming out of the locker room dominating the puck play in the Gulls defensive zone with Hackett being forced to stop a barrage of shots, but was not able to stop them all as Amadio, who turned 20-years-old today, found the back of net, sending the teams back to Ontario with the Gulls facing possible elimination in game 5.
“It was such a roller coaster ride in the third period it seemed we would answer back, they would answer and the biggest turning point was when we went down to 5 d, and we came out in deficit mode and I don’t think we made a tape-to-tape pass in overtime, and that’s what killed it for us,” Eakins remarked after the game. Eakins said they were looking ahead to game 5 the next night and would reevaluate the lineup before the game.
Gulls line combinations:
Nick Ritchie – Chris Wagner – Chris Mueller
Antoine Laganiere – Matt Bailey – Corey Tropp
Joseph Cramarossa – Kalle Kossila – Ondrej Kase
Harry Zolnierczyk – Kyle MacKinnon – Stefan Noesen
Jaycob Megna – Brandon Montour
Brian Cooper – Shea Theodore
Andy Welinski – Stu Bickel