For whatever reason, it took going 2-0 down for the Ontario Reign to turn things on. But, once that second goal went in, late in the first period, the lightbulb was lit and it was game on in San Diego.
What resulted was perhaps the most exciting game of the season. Ontario stormed back to tie the game at three early in the third period and after conceding once more, a late goal from Carl Grundstrom with 21 seconds left forced overtime. With the players on the ice reduced from 10 to 6, a moment of magic between Martin Frk and Jaret Anderson-Dolan led the game-winning goal, capping off a thriller in walk-off fashion, 5-4 for Ontario.
Anderson-Dolan was one of four Ontario players with multiple points on the game, as he, defenseman Kale Clague and forwards Gabriel Vilardi and Carl Grundstrom each had a goal and an assist, assuming the late tying goal is changed from Sheldon Rempal to Grundstrom, who got the redirect. For his part, Rempal’s seeing-eye shot from the point created the tying goal, and extended his point streak to five games, and in the largest of moments.
While not everything was perfect, the Reign and Gulls put on a show to celebrate Hockey Day So-Cal. You could not have picked a better game to showcase what is so special about this rivalry, and what a show it was for the fans who tuned in. For many, watching this game on Fox Sports West may have been their first ever experience with the American Hockey League. I doubt any of them were disappointed.
Jaret Anderson-Dolan with Taylor Felix
"We find a way when it matters."
— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) February 2, 2020
Gabriel Vilardi on the Reign’s play down the stretch, coming back to tie the game late
I think we had a bad first period. I don’t know how many shots we had in the first period, but it definitely wasn’t a lot. They played pretty good and Matty really kept us in it there at the beginning. I thought the second and third periods we played pretty well, honestly. The third period especially, like you said, we really got a lot of shots and put a lot of pucks on net. Good things happen when you put pucks on net.
On the Reign getting two PPG’s tonight, and if he noticed any changes with that unit
I don’t know…we’re getting good looks we’ve just got to start burying. That’s just the thing. You get a lot of good looks out there, myself I had three or four really good looks on the power play tonight. Obviously they can’t all go in, but you definitely want to take advantage of the Grade-A chances when you have a look like that.
On if they can take positives out of getting chances, even if not burying, as opposed to not creating looks
Yeah, I mean you can say that, but you can only say that for so long. We’ve been getting a lot of good chances, and I’d like to say we get more goals but it is what it is. I think if you’re going to take a positive from something it is that at least we’re getting the chances, right?
On the team finding momentum as of late
I think we’re playing pretty good hockey, like you said. We played really bad [tonight] in the first period in my opinion, and that’s the characteristic of a good team, we came back, we bore down and we got the win in overtime.
Mike Stothers on the Reign “turning on the lightbulb” once they went down 2-0
You mean the red lightbulb that was going on twice? I don’t know…we knew it was an afternoon game at four o’clock, we prepared what we thought was very well and we had an exciting win last night in Bakersfield, so you would have thought everything was just going to fall into place and carry over into the start of today’s game, but for whatever reason, we looked slow. We weren’t moving our feet, we weren’t even making the right passes or the right reads in situations and San Diego looked like the better team and then you’re right. We went down by two, we kind of clicked in like this is serious, we’re already into the game now and we’re behind the eight ball, but the good thing was we had 40 minutes. You don’t have to score two right away, you just keep chipping away and we did. I think it’s a credit to guys. When we were trailing, we had to come from behind. We were trailing later, we had to score late to tie it up and then we had a real nice play in the overtime from Frk to JAD.
On the growth he’s seen from his team in stopping the bleeding after early deficits, and turning those around into comebacks
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when or how it happened. Again, it’s not the ideal situation to be coming from behind, but I think we used to lose a little bit of our spirit maybe and we did have some long nights at the start of the year, there were some games that it was a real grind, and we brought it on ourselves. The guys seem to have a little bit better resolve right now and when things don’t quite go our way, we have a better response to it. First of all, it’s a sign of good goaltending, both our goalies have been good, and we’ve got some good veteran guys, some good character leaders. The younger guys, that you were expecting to be in that leadership role, like a Jaret Anderson-Dolan, is stepping up his game and being more of a presence, without it feeling like a “rah rah” type of guy, he’s just making good plays and I think Byron’s helped. It’s just the little things and maybe it’s just experience.
On Anderson-Dolan picking up where he left off after he was assigned from the Kings in January
You’re right, he hasn’t missed a beat. He’s come back with a terrific attitude, but that’s not surprising to anybody that knows him. JAD just wants to play hockey and if he’s going to play, he’s going to go balls out every time. He doesn’t hold back, he’s intense, he’s focused. Whether it’s a Kings jersey that he pulls on or a Reign jersey that he pulls on, he wants to be better than the guy he’s matched up against on the ice. That’s why he’s playing as well as he is, he wants to succeed. A lot of players can say that I’d really like to be in the NHL or whatever, but this kid, he’s not going to be denied. It’s a wonderful trait that he has and I think it’s rubbing off on some others as well.
On the desperation shown by the Reign in the third period comeback, and bringing that level for a full 60
You know what, you’re right, because in the first period, I think we had three odd-man situations early in the period and we never got a shot off. We tried to be fancy, we hung onto the puck for too long, allowed them to get into position and maybe knock the puck off our stick. We were guilty of being a little bit too cute and again I go back to that we looked slow. You start taking advantage of those situations, and putting pucks to the net, and you might not score on that initial one, but you certainly set yourself up for a second or third opportunity, or maybe you’re going to draw a penalty, because they’re caught out of position. It just creates so much. It’s hard, if you talk to our goalies, when they have to track pucks all night, it’s exhausting mentally. The more traffic that’s in front of them, and the busier they are, they have to control a rebound, they have to make a save and there’s a lot of variables that go into it. Let’s put the pressure on their goalie, and I think we did a good job of that.