For the only time this season, ‘Big Mike’ Mersch and the Texas Stars were in town Thursday night for an AHL matchup with the Reign. This was Mersch’s first trip back to Ontario since signing a two-way deal with the Dallas Stars organization during the summer.
For the hometown team, they were looking to turn their season in the right direction and avoid a seventh straight loss. Of late, the normally stout defense of years passed had given way to a team that allowed 35 goals during a six game skid.
On the bright side, the Reign were not run out of the building in all of those games; two being overtime losses and one a shootout loss. They had also scored 23 goals of their own over the same span. Recently sent down Mike Amadio looked to help push the Reign over the hill and help secure their second win of the young season.
The Reign started the game looking like they’d get on the board first as Brett Sutter hit the crossbar on a nice chance, but would not. Adam Mascherin took a broken play in the Ontario zone and beat Reign goaltender Cal Petersen for the early lead. Ontario would answer back in less than three minutes, as Chaz Reddekopp found Matt Luff in the low slot. The goal was Luff’s team-leading fifth of the season. Not to be outdone by Luff, Rempal would take an errant puck in the Texas zone and eventually put home a rebound. The goal was his fifth of the season, putting both Rempal and Luff at nine points on the year. Later in the period Mascherin jumped straight into the air to stop a Reign clearing attempt. He then hit Benjamin Gleason, who made a nice move to the middle and beat Petersen blocker high to tie the game at two. Alex Lintniemi was called for a late hold and on the ensuing powerplay would cede the lead. Texas player Colton Hargrove blasted a one-time shot passed Petersen to make the score 3-2.
Just thirteen seconds into the middle frame Amadio forced a turnover behind the Stars net and found Moulson alone in the slot to tie the game. The assist was Amadio’s second of the night. Ontario got into penalty trouble as the period went on and was forced to kill back-to-back-to-back calls to Kale Clague, Brad Morrison and Matt Moulson. Petersen played a big part on the third kill and made some of his best stops of the season. For good measure, Zack Mitchell took the fourth Ontario penalty of the second period. Ontario was able to ward off the storm and keep the game tied going into the third period.
The Reign opened the third killing off the remainder of the Mitchell penalty, and did so, to keep the game tied at three. As the period wore on, it seemed as though both clubs would look to secure a point before trying to get the second point in overtime. That changed when Sam Herr and Zack Mitchell forced Texas into taking a penalty after a nice shift. Rempal buried a shot blocker high on the ensuing powerplay the grab the late 4-3 lead. Kale Clague would pick up an assist on the goal as well. Ontario battened down the hatches with the lead and finally got off the skid. Luff added an empty net marker to make the final score 5-3.
Matt Luff on breaking the losing streak: I don’t think there is a better feeling. Struggling and getting together as a group being down one after the first and coming back to win the game. Texas fought hard but end of the day we battled as a team and got that win and we deserved it. We will enjoy tonight but are looking forward to Saturday.
On the third period being tight by design or style: I think it’s the style of the game. Both teams are great defensively and offense we both have good lines, it could have gone either way. But Rempal with a great goal there on the powerplay and that’s what we need. Special teams came up big on both ends for us.
On taking a big step forward on offense: I can’t take all the credit. I play with guys like, look at Moulson. What a career he’s had and is still having. He is probably top three on the team and there is Amadio, Sutter and Maillet, I wouldn’t be around without those guys. I worked all summer to be a guy that could be a go to and I’m just using my line mates and what I have and they’ve been giving me the puck. I’m a lucky guy to be playing with such good players.
Mike Amadio on having three assists in his first Reign game this year: It’s nice to get back to some familiar faces here. It was a lot of fun playing again with Moulson and Luff. We had such great chemistry last year so it was nice to get that click early on.
On differences with this year’s team: I thought we played a good game tonight. We were a little bit better in our defensive zone making passes and breaking the puck out. Cal stood on his head for us and anytime he does that he gives us a chance to win.
On any assignments he has from LA Kings brass: Just keeping it rolling and trying to play my game. To do what I can to help the team win.
Mike Stothers on getting the first home win of the year: I liked our compete tonight I thought we played hard. We wanted to win some loose puck battles and come out with some pucks when they had it. Then when we had it, we hung on to it and made some plays. It made a big difference having a guy like Mike Amadio in the middle of the ice making some plays. That gives us a little added depth. I was happy for everybody. I was happy for cal to get the win, especially after the first one went in. But he made some huge saves for us and thats the Cal Petersen we all know.
On what Amadio brings to a locker room: Not much. He doesn’t say anything. I mean, his nickname is Library Mike. He doesn’t speak above a whisper so its not like he’s a rah-rah guy. But he is a well liked guy. He is a well prepared individual. he brings a calming presence to everybody. Everyone knows how talented and gifted he is so he really doesn’t have to say much. He’d prefer to do his talking on the ice and you can see his play is pretty impressive
On catching up with former Reign player Michael Mersch: I saw Big Mike before the game in the hallway riding on the bike. He’s a special player for me. We were together for four years. He’s a coaches dream, he does everything you ask and I wish him nothing but success. I hope he has some success here in Texas and gets himself up to Dallas. He’s just a great individual.
Moulson – Amadio – Luff
Eyssimont – Sutter – Rempal
Herr – Mitchell – Maillet
Etem – Rymsha – Morrison
Brickley – Clague
Reddekopp – Lintuniemi
MacDermid – Roy
The Reign play the San Diego Gulls Saturday, November 4th in Ontario at 6 PM.
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