The Ontario Reign were back on the ice today for their practice before they enter into their first mid-week game of the season tomorrow evening against Milwaukee. Tomorrow’s contest begins a 3-in-4 set for the Reign as they will fly to Colorado on Thursday for a pair of games against the AHL’s newcomers, the Colorado Eagles, on Friday and Saturday in Loveland.
One thing Stothers pointed out is the change in routine this week – the Reign have played Friday-Saturday in each of their first two weeks and this week represents a deviation from that.
“Wednesday’s game is going to be a quick turnaround,” he said. “We’re used to playing Friday-Saturday here for a little bit, you throw in a Wednesday game and we’ve got a travel day and then we’re Friday-Saturday. It’s fun to play, guys like to play more than like to practice and coaches like to practice more than they like to play……and here we are.”
In case you’ve ignored the Reign for the last 10 days, this teams has scored A LOT of goals early in the season. Scores of 6-5, 4-5 and 5-6, all in either overtime or a shootout, have certainly been entertaining and has left Ontario standing at 1-1-1-1.
I talked with Mike Stothers, Brett Sutter and Brad Morrison on a few topics, including the team’s start, a high-offensive output to start the season, the focus heading into this week’s games
On how they view the 1-1-1-1 start
I never dwell on losing streaks, what good does that do you? We got points. We got four more points than we did after six games last year. It’s all good. You’ve always got to look at it as the glass is half full not half empty. We’ve got a young team and there are going to be some moments. We were affected by two pretty good pieces of our team, and not even 24 hours later they’re not in our lineup.
I think a little bit of both [glass half full & glass half empty]. Obviously every point means a lot. We went and we got two big points this weekend but we also left two on the table. I think we’ve become accustomed to wanting to win here, that’s the culture and that’s we’re expecting every night. We did some things we can build off of, but we definitely have a lot of things we can get better at and I think those wins will start coming and then that’s the goal every night.
On the high-scoring start to the season
Sutter – Asked about his personal hot start (6 points through 4 games)
You know what, we’ve just been scoring a lot of goals as a team, I really haven’t tried to change too much. I try to spend lots of time in front of the other team’s net and I’ve been lucky enough to get some loose pucks and my linemates have been taking advantage of some of their opportunities. Really not changing much, just things going our way and hopefully soon the wins start doing that too.
Obviously Remps has been great for us in the first few games here and it’s been good to watch him and maybe learn a bit from the stuff he’s doing with the puck – being shifty and making plays. I’m sort of spectating with some of the older guys, especially Mouls, guys like that making plays. We’ve got good leadership on this team and I think that’s what helps the offense. Having all the experience and I think we work hard under Stutts. He’s not going to accept anything other than 100% effort and we’ve got some good chemistry and I think that’s why we’re scoring right now.
On the focus this week in practice
We haven’t seen Colorado so we’re not really sure what to expect from them. We’ll do some pre-scouts on them but we’re just trying to improve our game. We like the fact that we’ve scored some goals but we’d like to eliminate some of the goals against. We concentrated a little bit on our forecheck, working on getting the puck back so that way, we’re not chasing it all night long and spending time in our end. As the rest of the week unfolds, we’ll probably go through the other zones as well, but it was a good forechecking day. Hunt the puck and try to score some goals. You just try to go over as many zones as you can and work in as many systems things as you can.
Our neutral-zone forecheck and our offensive zone forecheck. I think we’re just going to take the same effort that we had from Saturday night, I think we played a good game but didn’t get the result we wanted. We had a good effort and stuck to the system well. I haven’t played against Milwaukee before, but obviously Stutts knows how we’re going to prepare and we’ll be ready.
Right now, just some little defensive stuff, better through the neutral zone, better tracking. Turning pucks over quicker and getting back on the attack, that’s been the focus so far. We’ve got a younger group, a lot of new faces and I think everyone is putting their best foot forward to learn as quickly as they can and we’ll get there, that’s for sure.