Tuesday Night in Colorado was one to forget for the Reign, and thankfully for the visitors, they’ve got another crack at things tomorrow. Ontario began a back-to-back set at Budweiser Events Center with a 5-1 defeat against the Eagles, their first defeat on what had previously been a 2-0 start to the road trip.
To their credit, the Reign would not use any of the potentialy available excuses, focusing on their own play with a common theme of needing to be better tomorrow night.
The Eagles had speed and energy on the forecheck from the start of the game, skating with pace in the offensive zone leading to the game-opening goal from defenseman Kevin Davis, whose shot from the right point deflected off of Reign forward Kyle Bauman and past Petersen for his second tally of the season. The play was really a tough break for Bauman, who actually made the right play to get into the shooting lane.
Ontario bounced back quickly, however, to knot the game at one less than two minutes after the Colorado opener, through forward Sam Herr, who picked up his seventh tally of the season as he tied a professional career high with his 14th point of the season. Forward Sheldon Rempal collected a point for the third straight game with the primary assist, while defenseman Austin Strand picked up the secondary helper.
The Eagles took control of the game in the middle stanza with a trio of goals, beginning with Davis’ second tally of the evening. Colorado also got a breakaway tally from forward Julien Nantel, who scored through the five hole for his first goal of the season, and defenseman Mason Geertsen, as the hosts opened up a 4-1 lead through 40 minutes.
Forward A.J. Greer scored from a sharp angle midway through the third period to close out the scoring.
Petersen concluded his evening with 39 saves on 44 shots, as he faced less than 45 shots in a game for the first time in seven starts that he played the entirety of. For his part, Petersen turned aside several breakaways in the early stages of the game, in addition to a few odd-man rushes, to keep the Reign in it when they were.
On an injury note, defenseman Chaz Reddekopp and Daniel Brickley each blocked a shot and went to the locker room at points during the game, but both later returned and finished the game. As Stothers gracefully put it, “Well, they both got it in the head. One, head on his shoulders, one, head below the belt…..they both hurt.”
Forward Brett Sutter reached an AHL milestone, as he became the 39th player in league history to appear in 800 AHL games. Sutter reached his 750th AHL game earlier this season and the 800-game mark as a professional late in the 2017-18 campaign.
The two teams will be right back at it tomorrow night, with puck drop slated for 6:05 Pacific time.
Mike Stothers with his thoughts on tonight’s defeat
Well, I didn’t think we were very good. We were slow, and slow with everything we did, whether it was getting back for pucks, or moving our feet or making passes and then we compounded the problem [because] we had a lot of turnovers in all three zones. We were chasing a very fast team all night long. It certainly wasn’t the type of game that we wanted. If you look at the first two shifts, they had us hemmed in pretty good with a good forecheck and they were good at getting pucks in behind us and making us turn to go back and get them, and we weren’t very good at getting pucks behind them and making them turn. It was a game of chase, and you don’t win those ones.
On tonight’s game being attributed to altitude, travel or something else
You can over-analyze it all you want. You can say the altitude, you can say the middle of the trip, but other teams come in here and have to deal with the altitude, other teams have road trips and are in the middle of it, I can’t put my finger on it. I guess if you can say anything, it wasn’t just one or two guys, I didn’t think any of us were any good. You know that we’ll be better tomorrow, or most of the guys will be better tomorrow. Things have been pretty good for us, so maybe that’s exactly what we needed to get back on track and dial back in and realize that we need to continue to play a certain way. And when you don’t, it makes for a long night.
On the young blueline and the struggle of lacking a “veteran voice” on the backend
It’s more than just a voice, it’s going out and settling things down when things are going a little chaotic. We had some success in Tucson, but we played most of the first game with five D because Clague got hurt and in the second game, we were with the same inexperience and sooner or later, it’s going to catch up with you. You can’t expect that they’re going to keep playing above, maybe their level or what they’re ready for, but our forwards were much better for them in those games and we weren’t [tonight]. When you get just over your own blueline, and you’re turning pucks over, that’s not helping those guys. We spent too much time retreating and trying to recover pucks, the onus is on everybody to manage the puck better and we put a lot of stress on a young, inexperienced D. If you look, there’s a big difference – say you’re fortunate enough to grab MacDermid, Roy and Walker, it changes your backend dramatically. But we don’t want them, they’re playing with the Kings, so let them keep playing with the Kings. Now, it’s up to these guys. Lintuniemi, he’s probably our most experienced presence back there and we’ve got some younger guys, Brickley’s just back, and in the long run, I think this is only going to benefit these guys, but you’re going to experience nights like this for them. It’s part of the growing pains.
On losing Kale Clague from the lineup
It was a shame for Kale. We really feel good about where Kale was headed. Who knows, things were going so well, maybe he gets a look with the Kings as they wind down their season. I don’t know for certain, but with they way things are going, they’re trying to have a look at some players of the future, maybe that would have worked out. Even with that said, he was logging a lot of minutes with us, he was playing in all situations. You encourage your guys to block shots on the PK, he blocks a shot, breaks his foot and now he’s going to be out for four to six weeks. It’s a shame, it really is. I guess it’s kind of typical for the way that things have gone for the Kings organization this year. But, he did it doing the right thing, blocking a shot on the PK. It’s been a good first year for Kale, it just would’ve been nice to see it go a little bit longer for him.
Matt Luff on tonight’s loss
I don’t think we really gave ourselves a chance to win from the start. A lot of turnovers, I think every man knows that wasn’t an acceptable performance. I think energy was low, you could see it from warmups, not a lot of tempo, not a lot of good passes. You’ve got to look at it real quick, but we’ve got them again tomorrow and I think, looking at this road trip, if we can go home with a 3-1 [record]….I think we can play with these guys, but it has to be a full compete and a full 60 from us.
On what went wrong, whether it was travel or altitude, or something else
I mean, at the end of the day, we’re pros. Can’t really say travel, we got in two days ago, practiced yesterday and got a feel for the air and we got our legs under us. We had a practice this morning. I don’t think there’s any reason we can blame travel. At the end of the day, we had a good break, it’s not like it’s a 3-in-3. I think it just comes down to all the guys buying in and putting in a lot more of an effort.
On whether he feels the altitude when playing in Colorado
Yeah, you can feel it a bit but you can’t use that as an excuse. Those guys travel too, and they come back to it. At the end of the day, I think it’s just who wants it more and I don’t think today we showed that we wanted it.
On the biggest difference for him between the AHL and NHL
Just overall, the play. You look at guys like [Kopitar and Brown]. Every day they’re in the gym, they’re on the ice getting better and those are guys that have had long career and are winners. You look at them, seeing how they prepare, I’ve got to kind of see how that goes. They play 23 minutes a night, back-to-backs, I don’t think I’ve seen them play a bad game. That’s the biggest thing for me, being consistent that this level and then when I go up, being consistent up there.
Mike Amadio on what went wrong in tonight’s loss
I don’t think we played very well and obviously the score reflects that. We’ve just got to come back tomorrow morning with a good attitude and hopefully get the two points.
On what was missing for the Reign tonight
I’m not sure. I don’t want to really put the blame on just one thing. I think we can be a lot better and move forward.
On playing in the altitude and elevation
It definitely catches up to you by the time the third period rolls around, you’re not used to it. It’s definitely a factor, but we can be a lot better in our execution and cleaner in our own end and down the ice.
On what he needs to work on to become a full-time NHL regular
Probably being consistent. Bringing the same thing every night, being able to be reliable in my own end and contribute offensively. I think that’s one of the biggest things for me.