With the season winding down and plenty of regulars called up to the Los Angeles Kings, several young players are being given an opportunity to show what they can do for the Ontario Reign. In the front end of a back-to-back series with the Eagles, things didn’t exactly go as planned; culminating in the Reign playing a fairly ugly game and falling 5-1.
Colorado struck first 13 minutes into the first period. After Sheldon Rempal was called for tripping, Kevin Davis’ point shot redirected off of Kyle Bauman and beat Reign goalie Cal Petersen. The powerplay goal was assisted by AJ Greer and Scott Kosmachuk.
It didn’t stay that way long. The Reign quickly struck back, tying the game up at one. Rempal carried the puck behind the Eagles net, curled into the faceoff dot, and found Sam Herr in the slot, who redirected the pass top shelf.
After a fairly even first period of play, the hometown Eagles would take over the game during the second. Davis added his second goal of the game on a give-and-go play with Tim McGauley. Receiving the puck in the high slot, Davis had an easy shot into an open net after Petersen was caught out of position.
Following a series of penalties, where the two teams played a stretch of four-on-four, the Eagles extended their lead to two. Julien Nantel, who was held scoreless through his first 34 AHL games of the year, used a burst of speed to split the Reign D and slip the puck into the back of the Reign net.
With a minute remaining in the middle frame, the lead was extended to three. Martin Kaut, Colorado’s first round draft pick in last year’s draft, kicked the puck back to the point, where Mason Geersten flipped a light point shot on net. Petersen appeared to be screened and didn’t see the puck until it was in the back of the net.
Capping off the game, Eagles forward A.J. Greer scored his 17th goal of the season to give his team a four goal lead. When a loose puck slid into the Ontario zone, Greer picked it up along the left half-wall and threw it short-side and into the net.
From the get-go, the Reign struggled, with sustained zone pressure for the game’s first two shifts; and ultimately, Ontario lost the game in the second period. The team’s first shot came nearly halfway through the period and was one of only five they would register in the frame. When you play a poor first period and can walk away tied, you always hope you can turn it around. The Reign didn’t and instead allowed three goals in the second.
“I don’t really think we gave ourselves a chance to win from the start. A lot of turnovers. I think every man knows that wasn’t an acceptable performance,” diagnosed Matt Luff of his team’s performance. “I think energy was low. I think you could see it from warm-ups. Not a lot of tempo and not a lot of good passes. You gotta look at it real quick, but we get them again tomorrow. I think, look at this road trip, we can go home with a 3-1 [record]. I think we can play with these guys. It just has to be a full compete and a full 60 [minutes] from us.”
Head coach Mike Stothers echoed Luff’s thoughts when we asked him about his team’s performance. “Well, I didn’t think we were very good. We were slow and slow with everything we did, whether it was going back for pucks, or moving our feet, or making passes. Then, you compounded the problem by having a lot of turnovers in all three zones. We were chasing a very fast team all night long. It certainly wasn’t the type of game that we wanted. If you look at the first two shifts, they had us hemmed in pretty good with a good forecheck. They were good at getting pucks in behind us and making us turn to go back and get them. We weren’t very good at getting pucks behind them and making them turn. It was a game of chase, and you don’t win those ones”
Despite allowing five goals, Cal Petersen was undoubtedly his team’s best player. Time after time, Petersen made sliding, athletic saves to prevent goals. It’s no wonder he was recently rated the top Kings’ prospect in our rankings.
Line combos for Tuesday night were as follows:
Matt Moulson – Mike Amadio – Matt Luff
Brad Morrison – Brett Sutter – Philippe Maillet
Sam Herr – Zack Mitchell – Sheldon Rempal
Jamie Devane – Kyle Bauman – Mikey Eyssimont
Alex Lintuniemi – Daniel Brickley
Austin Strand – Chaz Reddekopp
Craig Wyzsomirski – Cliff Watson