The Ontario Reign bounced back to return to the win column, as they held off the San Jose Barracuda down the stretch and earned a 5-2 victory at SAP Center on Saturday afternoon.
Defenseman Tobias Bjornfot was the afternoon’s first star, as he collected a goal and an assist in his Reign debut, while forward Carl Grundstrom returned to the Ontario lineup with a pair of goals. Forward Martin Frk also had a multi-point night, as he extended his scoring streak to five games with a goal and an assist. In net, goaltender Cal Petersen was stout once again as he turned aside 32-of-34 shots, including all 14 he faced in the third period, and upped his record to 3-1-1 on the season.
The Reign struck three times in the first period, as Grundstrom and Bjornfot opened the scoring. First, Grundstrom took a rink-wide stretch pass from Sheldon Rempal and took it the rest of the way himself, as he picked a corner on San Jose netminder Josef Korenar for his first of the season. After a Barracuda response tied the game at one, Bjornfot followed with a power-play tally from the left point to put the Reign ahead. Forward Lance Bouma added a goal of his own with just 24 seconds left of the opening 20 to put the visitors up by a pair at the break.
Former Reign forward Jonny Brodzinski pulled one back for San Jose with the second period’s lone goal, as the puck kicked off his left skate and past Petersen to bring the Barracuda back to 3-2. After a third period that saw the Reign outshot 14-5, Grundstrom and Frk each tallied empty netters inside the final 73 seconds for the 5-2 final.
Ontario is back in action for its first midweek tilt of the season on Wednesday, with a trip to Bakersfield.
Martin Frk on a point in five straight to open the season
It’s definitely fun when you can pick up points, it’s always fun, feels good. The other guys help me a lot, they make it easier for me when guys pass me the puck and I can shoot, which I like and I’ve got to thank the guys for it. We bounced back from [last Saturday’s] game, so that’s really nice to get those two points here.
On being able to close a game down in the third period, after seeing a couple slip away recently
Yeah, for sure. I feel like in the first two periods, we played kind of loose, we worked hard, but the third came and we let off a little bit. We have to make sure we play all three periods. It’s a tough league, if you give the other team a chance to score one, it’s hard to [stop]. I think we’ve got to be a little bit sharper in the third, but it’s definitely nice to get it done today and get to the next few with a better feeling.
On his comfort level on the left-circle on the power play
Well, I think I’ve got to use my shot, right? On the power play, that’s when I need to score goals and that’s why they put me there. It’s a big responsibility for me, I know I’ve got to score some goals, so I’m glad I can be in that spot. I try to work on it every day in practice, make sure I’m good at it and make sure I can help the team win.
For the first time, we feature Terminal Texts with Stutts!
On closing out a game in the third period, after seeing leads slip away the last two weekends
Cal closed out the third period for us, let’s not kid ourselves. We generated 5 shots and they had 14. So once again we thank Cal for his services.
On Tobias Bjornfot’s play in his Reign debut
Toby was very, very good. He and Grundstrom made a huge difference for us on the score sheet. Toby shows a poise, and confidence with the puck, that you would only expect out of a five year vet. He controls the game and makes great decisions with the puck. We a really fortunate to have him in the Reign line up for whatever the time length.
On what Carl Grundstrom brings to the Ontario lineup
It’s great when you are able add him to your lineup after spending the first few weeks with the Kings. He plays a hard, heavy game on the puck here in the American Hockey League. His shot is hard and accurate. Much like Toby, not sure of the time frame with the Reign but we will play them both a lot of minutes.