After every Reign road game I’ll try to catch up with head coach Mike Stothers to get some texts on his assessment of the game on the bus ride back to the team hotel before the team flies back on Thursday morning. Here’s what he had to say after Wednesday’s overtime win in San Jose.
Reign 3, Barracuda 2 (OT)
Vincent LoVerde scored 23 seconds into overtime, tipping in a Michael Mersch point shot that banked off the end boards, and the Reign picked up all four points in their San Jose trip after a 4-1 win on Sunday. Trailing 1-0 after a lackluster first period in which they had just two shots on goal, the Reign tied the game on a Sean Backman power play goal. Adrian Kempe then scored on the man advantage in the third period, his second goal in three games, to give Ontario a 2-1 lead with 9:39 remaining. San Jose forced overtime on a tip-in tally by Bryan Lerg with their goalie pulled for an extra attacker with 33 seconds left, setting the stage for LoVerde’s second OT winner of the season.
BUS TEXTS WITH STOTHERS
ORI: How did the team weather the storm after just two SOG in the first period?
Stothers: Worst period of hockey I have seen us play in the two years we have been together!!! It improved only marginally as the remaining two periods unfolded. Could not believe that was the same team that smothered the opposition on Sunday. Brutal.
ORI: Great finish by Kempe. Do you feel like he’s turning the corner?
Stothers: Kempe was directly responsible for their first goal, and our second goal. We had a similar situation vs San Diego and it cost us a point. Just because someone scores a goal I would hardly call it turning a corner? There is still a ton of work ahead for this talented individual before he becomes a complete player. This league is about development so he will get second, and third, chances here, but that will never happen in the NHL. His careless play in the DZ needs to improve, and it will, because sooner or later he will realize I am way more stubborn than he is. A young man, with an abundance of talent, well worth the time and energy.
Note: Here is the play Stothers is referencing: With the puck on his stick at the Reign blue line, Kempe failed to clear resulting in the game’s first goal by San Jose’s Jeremy Langlois. Also, in last Saturday’s OT loss to San Diego, Kempe’s missed assignment in the defensive zone allowed the Gulls to score.
ORI: The OT goal — ironically Mersch from the point and Vinny at the goal mouth — shows some versatility in the offense, doesn’t it?
Stothers: Interesting goal because they started two D, I assume in the hopes of stopping Mersch and Dowd. Mersch carried the puck behind the net and out towards the blue line. Vinny had headed to the net and rolled up the wall but then beat his man from the boards to the net as Big Mike fired it to the net. It came off the backboard and Vinny put it in from a tough angle before doing a face plant into the ice. What can you say about your leaders making the necessary plays when the team needs them the most? They are special.