The Ontario Reign continued a season-opening three-game road trip Friday night, taking on the Iowa Wild at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.
Goaltender Cal Petersen made 25 saves in his pro debut, but the Wild provided all of the goals in a 3-0 victory. The Reign finished the contest 0-for-6 on the power play and dropped to 0-2-0-0. We caught up with Head Coach Mike Stothers on the bus as the Reign journeyed to Chicago to take on the Wolves Saturday night at Allstate Arena.
ORI: You were moving your feet and generating chances, but what’s not clicking just yet for the offense?
Stothers: I liked our game more tonight than I did in San Antonio. We had a much better start, moved our feet and made some plays to get out of our zone. The problem was in the offensive zone of not taking the shot when available. We wanted to make one extra pass or we were looking to pass and then decided to shoot and it was too late. Decisions have to be made quicker. We are guilty of a hesitant process.
ORI: Is the hesitation the result of a young group being unsure of themselves or just trying to be unselfish?
Stothers: It is a team-wide situation at present. We had veteran players and rookies that failed to register a shot on goal. Shooting a puck is never selfish. It creates second and third opportunities if the original shot is stopped.You mention the young guys, but Teemu Selanne scored 76 goals in his rookie season and it wasn’t by “passing” the puck into the net. Ovechkin is an older player who continues to lead the NHL in shots, and by no surprise, in goals year after year. He has never met a puck he doesn’t like to slap the logo off of!!!
ORI: Do you feel this hesitation hindered progress on special teams? The four-minute power play in the second period looked to be the focal point of momentum.
Stothers: The hesitation hindered us in all situations. They scored three even-strength goals…we scored zero. We got squat as far as pucks behind their goalie. We need contributions from our entire lineup in all man power situations, but it will come.
ORI: Tomorrow you face Chicago for the first time in team history. Do these team adjustments allow for more focus on your internal game vs. a squad you have never seen?
Stothers: Geeeez Jay! We are not trying to split the atom or solve how the Egyptians built the Pyramids. We are just going to shoot the puck in the direction of the net a little more often. Get some bodies to the net for screens and second opportunities. Get shots through. It starts with an ugly one (goal). We will find a way.