The Ontario Reign opened the 2018-19 regular season with a defeat as they fell by a 4-1 final in San Jose. Forward Zack Mitchell scored a power-play goal midway through the second period to get the Reign on the board but a three-goal first period deficit proved to be too much to overcome.
San Jose struck three times in the opening period as forward Dylan Gambrell collected two goals and an assist with a hand on all three tallies. Ontario struck first in the middle stanza as Mitchell scored a power-play goal with assists to defenseman Kale Clague and forward Sheldon Rempal, the first career professional points for both players. The Barracuda got a late second-period tally from Maxim Letunov to re-gain their three-goal advantage with what proved to be the final marker of the game.
Ontario netminder Cal Petersen turned aside 23 of the 27 shots he faced while San Jose goaltender Antoine Bibeau made 30 saves in the victory.
The Reign are back at it tomorrow as they travel to Stockton to face the Heat. Stockton is coming off of a lopsided 8-1 defeat against Bakersfield in its opener as both teams look to pick up their first victory of the season tomorrow evening.
Stothers on whether the early deficit was too much to come back from
Well, it’s not too much to come back from, we did it in the exhibition games, but I mean this is the regular season and you can’t spot a good team like San Jose three. We came out a little slow, a little tentative and they took advantage, scored some nice goals, we didn’t give Cal much help on the three they got. After 20, you’ve still got to look at it like we’ve still got 40 minutes to play and you keep chipping away. When we scored that first one, I thought maybe we make that climb but it wasn’t to be. We’ll regroup and get ready for tomorrow night.
On his team’s second period
We had some shots, we had some opportunities. I thought we could’ve done a better job of penetrating and making things more difficult for their goalie to see the puck or track the puck on the saves that he made for maybe a second or third opportunity. We were guilty of standing around and watching too much and when we were moving, we were doing a lot of drive bys and that’s not going to work. We need to get back to playing the way we can play and I think we will. You know what, it was the first game of the year, maybe there were some nerves involved, first time on the road for some of these guys playing the pro game. We’ll regroup.
On the points of emphasis against Stockton tomorrow
All I know is tomorrow we want to get on the winning side of things and come home .500. We’re going to need a better effort and better execution more so than the effort part. We didn’t look like ourselves tonight. We’ll get that rectified and we’ll be better tomorrow.
On having a short memory with another game tomorrow
That’s what it’s all about. Sometimes things go well, sometimes they don’t. You have a little hiccup, a little bump in the road but it’s something that we’ll re-focus and get ready. As the old saying goes, you can’t win them all and you can’t if you don’t give yourself a chance and we didn’t by falling behind by three. Tomorrow’s a new day and we’ll go into Stockton and do the best we can.
Zack Mitchell on the team’s slow start
That’s unacceptable, it’s been kind of a common trend so far through preseason and now this game so we’re going to have to switch something up, our pre-game routine or just be more prepared because teams come out hard.
On what the Reign can do to change those slow starts
I think it’s just about being ready and preparation. You know, this is only one game so we’re not panicking or anything but certainly it’s not acceptable to be down by three after the first period and we’re going to make an adjustment.
On whether he felt the Reign missed opportunities in the second period, outside of his goal
I think so. I thought we certainly outplayed them in the second period, and yeah, we’ve got to find a way to get it done and at the end of the day we lost and it’s not good enough.