Sometimes…….it’s just wow.
The Ontario Reign seemed down for the count, trailing by four goals early in the third period. And then, with less than 14 minutes to play in regulation, Boko Imama started the comeback with his first professional goal that re-energized the hosts.
Three more goals in regulation followed for the Reign, with the final tally coming off the stick of Sheldon Rempal with 3:34 on the clock, a power-play goal that brought the Reign from four down to a tie game. A remarkable comeback in itself, but there was more to come in overtime.
During the 3-on-3 session, forward Brett Sutter capitalized on a turnover in the Tucson end, deked out replacement goaltender Hunter Miska and went high on the blocker side for his second goal of the evening and the overtime game winner. Sutter’s goal was his third point of the evening, capping off a crazy win for the Reign.
Today’s game marked the second straight against Tucson to finish with 13 total goals. The game finished with both team’s backup goaltenders in net, with Ontario goaltender Charles Williams earning the victory with six saves, including three big ones in overtime, the importance of which can’t go understated.
Imama’s first pro goal, which came in a milestone 50th AHL game played, was not the only first on the evening as forward Drake Rymsha also tallied his first professional goal, which came all the way back in the first period to tie the game at one. Forward Brad Morrison tallied the first multi-goal game of his professional career, while defenseman Sean Walker collected three assists from the blueline, one of seven Reign players to post a multi-point night.
Ontario, for the third time this season, pulls back to the .500 mark at 7-7-2-1. The Reign are next in action with a pair of road games this week, beginning with a school-day showdown at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday morning in Bakersfield.
Mike Stothers on his team’s comeback win.
It’s just character. We’ve got some good people in that locker room. We’ve got some good veterans and the young guys, they’re learning as they go and they’re making some good strides because they are good people. Character, resilience and determination. We never give up on each other and we always believe that we’ve got a chance and tonight was a real good example of what you can do when everybody works together.
On Boko Imama’s goal swinging the momentum of the game
It was….it was just great to see. Boko’s been pressing to get his first professional goal and it was a good thing to see. Maybe that’s exactly what got the guys going, their excitement for him, everybody’s been pulling for him. He gets his first and then we kind of got some energy and it goes to the fact that there’s a belief in the room that we can win games. We know we’ve still got a ways to go to be where we want to be at the end of the year, but we’re making some strides and it just feels good. Damn it feels good right now. I’m so happy for the guys, so proud of them. That’s just terrific hockey.
On the never say die attitude and how that starts from the top with Brett Sutter, who scored the OT winner
Well, it certainly starts with your captain. He’s the leader of the group in the room but it takes everybody. If you’re going to win, it can’t just be one or two guys, it’s a collective group and I can’t stress it enough, I like our group. Sometimes, it can be a little frustrating to watch some of the painful lessons that we have to go through as far as the mistakes or turnovers that end up in the back of your net but then you see the resolve. These guys, they’re so young, it’s almost like they still believe in Santa. They’re excited…..and Santa does exist by the way. We all believe.
On Austin Strand making his pro debut tonight
We’ve played 16 games going into tonight and he was still looking for his first start. Nothing against Kale’s play, it’s just that we’ve got seven and we want to get everybody busy and active. Strander’s been good, he’s been a real good soldier about it and kept a real positive attitude and just wanted to wait for his first opportunity and it just so happened it was tonight.
Brett Sutter on Boko Imama’s goal
Everyone’s just so happy for him. A guy that works so incredibly hard, he’s a good teammate every day and it’s been a long time coming for him. I think everyone’s just so happy for him. You see a guy like that who just doesn’t quit and we had to follow his lead and that’s what we did. Guys kept fighting and it was a heck of a game by everyone to stick with it.
On whether the team feels like it’s never out of a game
Absolutely. I think we’ve showed it, most of our wins have been come from behind wins this year. You don’t like giving up goals and having a slow start to the third, especially when we had a pretty good feeling but if you keep fighting, you give yourself a chance every night and that’s what we did.
On his feeling after capping off the comeback with the overtime
Always a great feeling. Finally knocked some of the icicles off, I was getting kind of cold there for a while, so it’s a good feeling to help the team out however you can and in overtime it’s that much more special, but tonight was a team win. That took everyone and whatever it was, 60-plus minutes, so just a good job by everyone.
On being able to build off of this win moving forward
I think the last six, seven, eight games we’ve been building. We lost the last game and we know we could’ve been better but it was a loss where we felt there were a lot of good things going for us. Keep making strides in the right direction, keep pushing each other to get better and I think we’re starting to trend the right way here.