Game 5 postgame quotes: Auger, Dowd, Samuels-Thomas

Justin Auger, on his game-winner:
Just kind of picked that puck up there and it was a pretty clear 2-on-1. I saw Backy over there and [Hackett] was playing the pass. Stuttsy’s been talking nonstop about shooting the puck and throwing everything at the net. Just a good shot right over the pad and it happened to go in. [Reporter: How important was it to score right after they did?] I think that’s huge. They score a goal, it kind of takes some of the energy out of the building and you’ve got to go back after, gets a little of the fire back up.

Auger, on why the Reign were able to close it out:
We took advantage of our opportunities. Every game’s been a low-scoring game and Budes has stood on his head for us a couple times and made some huge saves and when we had a chance to put the puck in the net we made sure we were doing it.

Auger, on winning the series:
We just played well. We showed up most games and did what we had to do to win.

Auger, on if the 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 schedule was actually a benefit:
I think we came into it with a positive attitude. We took what was given to us. They have to play the same format as we do, right? We’re both playing a one game back-and-forth. I think recovery was a big part and taking care of our bodies. After last night getting water back in us and just getting ready to play today. And just the mental side of it, showing up today we were very business like and we came to work. I think you enjoy the win last night but you quickly forget about it. It’s another win in the win column and it puts us up 3-1 but you can’t look back on that, you look forward after that win and you start preparing for the next game. [Reporter: From a physical standpoint, how do you prepare?] Everyone has their different things. Some guys are ice bath, some guys are stretching. I think the biggest thing is just getting water in you and getting hydrated. Just being ready to play the next day.

Auger, on being able to disrupt San Diego’s power play:
We really forced them down the ice. We have our first guy swinging through and the second guy … we don’t let them get into the zone. If they don’t have easy entries over our blue line and into the zone it’s going to be hard for them to get any power play established against us.

Auger, on wearing down San Diego throughout the series:
We’re a good conditioned team. We weren’t sure how long the series was going to go and we were prepared for anything and like I said before, we took advantage of our opportunities and we came to play every night. This is what we’ve been working towards all season. We work hard on Mondays and Tuesdays every week we bag skate and this is what it prepares us for is these long series.

Auger, on being able to learn from the Game 3 letdown last weekend:
Coming into that back-to-back we didn’t get the finish that we wanted to but just coming into today there was no looking back. We were up 3-1 and we knew that when we get the chance to close a team out we’ve just got to take advantage and end it.

Auger, on if it was his biggest birthday goal ever:
I’d have to say only birthday goal ever.

Auger, on the importance of closing out the series and not going back to San Diego:
Of course. Now we’ve got a couple days off here and we’ve got a week till we start next weekend. It’s going to be huge for guys who are banged up and guys who need that extra rest to get ready for the next series.

Nic Dowd, on the difficulty of closing out a series:
Any time you’re going to attempt to end a team’s season it’s challenging. Any round, first round [with] San Jose was the same way. They’re going to throw their best stuff at you and you have to match that desperation. Sometimes teams find that challenging when you’ve got the games in hand. It’s always difficult.

Dowd, on the Reign’s success winning D-zone faceoffs tonight:
It’s a big change. … The first three games, myself, I don’t know about everybody else, I was pretty bad at D-zone faceoffs and faceoffs all over the ice. Winning those D-zone draws is huge. It gives you possession and also you don’t spend a potential 40 seconds running around your zone and your shift’s gone. Penalty kill especially, it’s huge, waste 20-25 seconds.

Dowd, on the hectic last minute with Backman in the box and Hackett pulled:
Obviously it wasn’t fun to make it any more challenging on ourselves than we already had to. We did it against San Jose too, we took a penalty in the last minute of that game with the elimination game at hand. Hopefully we don’t make a habit of doing that. It gets a little hairy there but we won the faceoff right away and then our forwards did a good job of limiting their entries.

Dowd, on if the challenge of the 1-1-1-1-1-1-1 schedule was a good thing:
I definitely think that as you progress through the playoffs teams become a little hardened. Guys have to step up, guys have to deal with injuries. You have to deal with bad travel. There’s a bunch of stuff that could go against you but in the end you either come out with the wins or you don’t and no one’s going to feel bad for you that you had to go 1-1-1-1. It’s not something that people are going to talk about. I highly doubt San Diego will worry about that. It was just something we had to deal with. They had to deal with it too, it was the same thing.

Dowd, on learning from last weekend’s letdown:
I think we learned from our mistake. It happens all the time but as a team coming into this game we knew they were going to be desperate and our team to each man you’ve got to match the desperation. I think we did a good job of doing that and I think, like I said, we learned from our back-to-back last weekend.

Dowd, on what the difference was in the series:
Budes. All the way till the end with 10 seconds left the guy’s making huge saves, cool as a cucumber. I don’t know, minus Pete I thought our penalty kill was really good. You look at how they played Texas, a couple games they had two or three power play goals and I know their fourth game they went 3-for-7 and that was the game. This team’s very opportunistic. You see it’s hard to score 5-on-5, so power plays are huge and I thought our penalty kill did a really good job of taking their pressure and alleviating pressure and getting pucks out and then when worse came to worse we had Budes.

Dowd, on the Reign’s forecheck:
I think we finally did a good job of not trying to make plays at the blue line and at the hash marks and just getting the puck all the way to goal line and making them turn their feet and going back and creating a 50-50. I know myself included I was trying to do way too much at the beginning of the series. You’ve just got to get pucks in deep and let your linemates work for you too.

Dowd, on if this was the closest to a signature Reign win as we’ve seen in the series:
I think so. I wouldn’t call it our best game. I think you always want to strive for better, but Budes played well and then you go from the back end, our D was really good, our penalty kill was really good. Power play lacked a little bit, really going to have to pick that up but I thought we got our forecheck established and we got pucks to the net and I think they had 15 shots.

Dowd, on how important the week off will be:
I think it will be good. Take today, tonight and tomorrow and regroup and that will be good. Just get some rest. These back-to-backs we do a lot in the season but they’re a lot more challenging in playoffs.

Jordan Samuels-Thomas, on his line’s play, and the angles he takes to be effective:
For sure. I mean, I have to be smart with my angles. I’m not the fastest skater by any means, but to be smart and keep the other team to the least dangerous areas is something that’s important to me, and it’s something that we actually focus on on the team. I think with the guys I’m usually playing with, we may not necessarily get the possession right away, but after time we just wear ‘em down, wear ‘em down. It might not show up in the first or second period, but in the third period is when we start seeing the dividends – guys taking looks over their shoulders, tired, and stuff like that.

Samuels-Thomas, on starting in the ECHL, and being entrusted in key situations in Ontario:
I mean, I take a lot of pride in that. I think obviously scoring goals is great, but nothing gets me more excited than going up against a team’s top line or their top scorer. I think if I want to ever play in the NHL or play for a long time, that’s what I have to do – be a strong defensive player and be big and strong. I love the opportunity to be out there late, and like I said, that’s kind of what the most exciting part of the game for me is.

Samuels-Thomas, on the team-wide checking in Game 5:
I think we were able to do better on the forecheck, and that’s going to frustrate them. They have a lot of D-men who like to get up in the zone, but just taking good angles on them, we limited their shots, obviously, but the shots that they got were from the outside. Sometimes it’s not necessarily about keeping them out of the zone, but it’s about having them take shots from not dangerous spots, whether it’s the corner of the blue line or from the corner, stuff like that. We’ve got such a great goalie that when we have breakdowns, he’s going to be there like you saw there in the last 10 seconds. Again, we don’t allow a lot of shots, and the shots that we do allow, they’re not really the highest quality.

Samuels-Thomas, on whether he was surprised by how quickly the series ended:
Yeah, for sure. Obviously you set out to do that. We had two overtime games, and a lot of times that can go either way. If you see the NHL series, you see how it goes. This team, we wanted to come out, and we obviously wanted to end it as soon as possible, and then against this team and everything we’ve been through, I suppose, this year, it was good to end it quick and to have that rest.

Samuels-Thomas, on not playing on last year’s team but playing in big games in college:
I don’t think it’s too much different. I probably play the same amount here as I did in Quinnipiac, except for I do PK instead of power play. At this level or any level, it’s about the little plays, whether it’s getting the puck in, or getting to the red line and getting the puck in, or getting the puck out of your zone – those little plays – and it’s the same at every level. You really have to execute, and obviously at this level the players are more skilled that if you don’t make that quick play, that probably results in a goal more so now than it did then, but I think it’s all the same. I don’t think I’m intimidated by what’s going on. This team is so steady, and being around these guys who’ve done it before honestly makes it kind of feel like I was there last year in terms of just being confident. These guys are so confident, so stepping in with a confident group just gives you that confidence.

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