Following the Reign 3-2 shootout win on Friday afternoon over the visiting San Jose Barracuda, here’s what Ontario coach John Wroblewski had to say…
Final in El Segundo… In a shootout, Reign win 3-2.
Three Ontario players scored in the shootout:
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) January 23, 2021
Wroblewski on Quinton Byfield leaving the game early in the second period
He’s a little nicked up, lower body, nothing serious. He will be day-to-day going forward. Nothing to panic about.
On his overall impressions of the team’s first preseason game
I really liked our overall compete level. For a first game, I thought guys were really diligent with their effort on the puck. I thought some of our structure that we’re trying to implement, there were glimpses of it within our offensive zone. Overall, I thought we had some really strong performances, particularly from our young players. Those were some of the positive things, and there are a number of items we need to shore up. Some of our faceoff intensity needs to be better. Our breakdown management needs to improve, as well. Those are all things that we sort of anticipated. You can’t say enough about our goaltending platoon too, and how well they played.
On going with JF Berube over Jacob Ingham to start the game
We’re going to see JF on Sunday [in our next game], that’s the plan here. It was to give a little bit of solidification to our mistakes. Hopefully, what will happen is we’ll get better with each game. There was no doubt that we were gonna make a mistake in the first four or five minutes, we didn’t expect it was gonna be in the first four or five seconds that we were gonna have something go completely sideways. Just wanted the veteran guy in there to maybe just alleviate some of the the pressure and let the team settle in a little bit. I thought JF was outstanding.
On the first San Jose goal, 16 seconds into the game
It wasn’t his fault. Bjornfot blew a tire and ended up in the corner. It was a good shot from the point and an expert tip, ended up right underneath the crossbar. There was really nothing the goaltender could do, but he responded exactly how we needed him to. It was a very impressive performance from him. And I thought Ingham coming in was really, really solid as well.
On dealing with all the roster juggling
We’ve been in a fluid time for quite a bit here, since the ball dropped and we knew that hockey was gonna get played this year. Every day has an unbelievable roller coaster. I can’t say enough about how well I think the team — and I say this in regard to the management — how well that team has gone about the business and been able to keep everyone aware of how things might play out. It’s sort of a chess game. There are lots of nights where Rich Seeley [team GM] is giving me a shout at 9:45, ‘Hey you up? I need to talk about something, a possibility for tomorrow.’ So, management has done a tremendous job of keeping us aware. Personally, it isn’t anything too crazy for me. It’s definitely a learning experience, but after coaching in the ECHL and also dealing with quite a bit of roster fluctuation with the the U.S. National Team Development Program, as well. This is something that I’d say that I’m relatively used to. You just kind of go with the flow and whoever’s up, we’ll get them ready to go as best we can.
On any pairs or line combos that impressed him
Unfortunately, with Quinton going out relatively early in the second period, I think that we lost the opportunity to gain any real chemistry. However, I do think that we had quite a few of the young players who played better than I anticipated. Even though they have pedigree, that was a really good San Jose team we went against. For their first American League games for guys like Akil Thomas and Dudas, I thought those guys were tremendous. I really liked Madden. I liked Kaliyev. I thought our power play was clicking really nicely, guys were thinking the play against San Jose’s really diligent pressure. We had guys who were ahead of the game and ready to make an impact on the power play, which was great. I thought our returner that really impacted the game, Kupari, had a steady presence, 200 feet. His line, almost whenever he was out there seemed to have the ice tilted in our favor.
More on Kupari
I liked his impact on the game. I can’t say that I loved his impact, I really liked it. It’s a good base point for us. I thought that he was, he had a presence in the 200-foot game, whether it was a tracking clip or something where he would gain the puck in open ice. He found himself into open ice quite often today, which was great to see, so he gets to use that speed. The one thing that I’ll talk to him about is being able to and making sure that he understands once he gets into the solid ice, the grade-A opportunity ice, that he goes into attack mode. I thought a couple of times — there were three instances etched into my brain after the game, where he could have gone hard to the rack or ripped a shot and he deferred to something like a little pullup. Or maybe just trying something a little too cute when he was right in that grade-A scoring zone. But that that’s gonna happen. I mean the guy hasn’t played a game in 15 months, so I’m nitpicking.
Get to know the new Reign coach here:
More postgame comments linked below.
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