The Ontario Reign returned to winning ways as they bounced back with a 4-1 defeat of the Stockton Heat on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Business Bank Arena. The Reign got goals from four of their six defensemen in the victory, as well as 37 saves from goaltender Charles Williams, who earned his first career AHL victory in his first start with the Reign.
For the first time all season, the Reign did not allow a goal in the opening 20 minutes, but rather potted two goals of their own to take a 2-0 lead through 20 minutes.
First, defenseman Daniel Brickley trailed the play and crashed the net on a Matt Moulson rebound, burying the shot past Stockton netminder Jon Gillies, before crashing into the boards with an emphatic celebration. With just over three minutes to play, Ontario doubled its advantage as forward Brad Morrison used a nice move to create space along the right wing, before he fed Kurtis MacDermid at the center point, where the 6-5 defenseman uncorked a slap shot that beat Gillies.
Ontario struck again less than five minutes into the second period as defenseman Matt Roy got in on the scoring with his second goal of the season. Sheldon Rempal hit Roy with a cross-ice feed and the Reign blueliner moved in on Gillies and fired underneath the crossbar to increase the Ontario lead to three. The Reign moved the advantage to four with 3:35 left in the second as Sean Walker scored his first goal since returning from the NHL, finishing a Philippe Maillet assist for the team’s fourth tally of the evening.
Stockton went on the offensive with 13 shots in the third period and Williams stood tall, denying the first 11, before forward Ryan Lomberg ended the shutout bid with 2:21 left in regulation. The Canisius College product Williams made one final save before the final buzzer, finishing with 37 saves to earn the victory.
A couple of notes on tonight’s lineup – Brett Sutter was out tonight as Mike Stothers deemed him “a little under the weather”, something that he hopes is just a 24-hour bug. Mikey Eyssimont was out as a coaches decision, an opportunity to “get everybody busy and active.” Stothers added not to anticipate Eyssimont being out for long.
The Reign are off tomorrow before they return to the ice on Tuesday. The team is next in game action this weekend with a trip to Grand Rapids and Milwaukee for a game in each city.
Charles Williams on the feeling after his first career AHL victory
I can’t quite pinpoint it…but I had a lot of fun, I was excited and the boys had my back for every minute out there. I’m just really happy and pleased with the win and I’m glad we got to finish it here at home this weekend.
On whether it was rewarding to get the chance to show what he can do after backing up for the past couple of weeks
Yeah, absolutely. Cal and myself, to be able to watch him and see how he works, it was just really a blessing to be able to see that and try and match that. Making it tough on the guys to score only makes me better too. It was nice to be able to get that work in during practice and then being able to show it during the game was just like the cherry on top.
On getting the first win with his family in the building
Man, it was awesome. [My dad] saw me play a couple weekends ago and that was his first time. To have them here, it was like his third game watching me play pro. I’m just really excited, I can’t say that enough, they always support me no matter what. It’s been a lot of fun.
Matt Roy on all four Reign goals tonight coming from defensemen
Coach has been telling us to shoot more as a team and I don’t know, I guess we were shooting and luckily we were getting some bounces and they were going in.
On his personal increase in shots (six shots in each of last 2 games)
I mean, I always try to use [my shot], I just try to get pucks through more than anything and give forwards a chance to tip it or to get a rebound or something. I was glad one finally went in tonight.
On playing in front of Charles Williams in his first AHL win
It was fun. We knew we had to buckle down and I don’t know if he was nervous or not but we all wanted to come out and play hard for him and make it easy for him. It was a good game from him.
Mike Stothers on his team bouncing back in the compete level department
I talked about it after the game on Friday and on Saturday morning, I just told the guys how disappointed I was. It wasn’t even a situation where you can get mad, there’s no sense getting mad, we just didn’t give ourselves a chance. The only way you can play the game is to play it with some passion and some compete and if you do, you may not win, but at least you give yourself a chance to, and I thought we did a real good job of that today. The guys rallied around and rose to the occasion and played hard and they played well. There might’ve been some factors that contributed to that and I’m sure they were disappointed in the outcome on Friday. I thought today was an example of the way we need to keep playing.
On Charles Williams’ performance
It was a job well done by him. He’s been here for a little while now, he’s worked hard. He says out and does extra work, he wants to play and he wants to be here. You can see his enthusiasm and it’s nice to see him rewarded. Number one, it was a good performance in front of him, the guys played well, which is important for a guy that’s in his first AHL start and you know what? He looked pretty focused and you’re just hoping, you’re a couple of minutes away from a shutout which would have made it even better, but at the end of the day, the team got the win, he got his first win and we’re happy for him.
On whether a team plays differently, perhaps more defensively minded, in front of a goalie they’ve never played in front of before
I don’t think so – otherwise you’d bring in a new goalie every game. Just call in some guy you’ve never heard of, ‘ah the guys will play better, they’ll play tighter, better defense in front of him.’ It’s a crazy game, you can’t figure it out. We play 68, up top they play 82 – Some nights, you think you’ve got everything preparation wise as far as your opponent, we’ve practiced well for a couple of days and for whatever reason, the game doesn’t go the way you want it to. Other times, with some guys missing and some injuries and you know guys are playing through them, you get some guys that get called up and everybody plays well. It’s just a matter of we don’t get too high when we win and we certainly try not to discouraged when we lose. You just maintain, keep an equilibrium, do the best you can.
On getting four goals from the blueline tonight
You and I have talked about it before, that we needed to get contributions from everywhere, including the back-end. Tonight, we got four goals from the guys in the back and that’s terrific. Again, it’s much needed and we encourage these guys to be a part of the offense, just because you’re a defenseman doesn’t mean you’re a defender only. The word I like is a contributor. Be a friggen contributor, on both sides of the ice. It was good. Much easier to talk to you today than after the loss the other night for sure.
On Matt Roy’s game, including using his shot and his offensive game more
He does have a good shot. He’s got a heavy, heavy shot. I think there’s been times where Royzie’s been guilty of looking to pass off. We’ve been trying to stress to him that we want quick strikes, quick inside with pucks that are coming low-to-high, we want it to the net right away. We’re trying to encourage our forwards to get there so they know if it’s going low-to-high, get it to the net. He’s a guy that’s got a lot of things that he does well that’s very deceiving. Because he’s such a quiet individual that plays a quiet game, people might not notice, but he can shoot, he can skate. He can play.