The Ontario Reign made it four wins from five games played as they came from two goals down to defeat the Grand Rapids Griffins by a 4-3 final on Friday evening at Van Andel Arena.
Playing in his 900th professional game, forward Matt Moulson scored two goals, including what, at the time, were the tying and go-ahead goals, as the Reign earned their second road victory of the season. Defenseman Matt Roy, playing his first pro game in his home state, collected two assists, while forward Sam Herr and defenseman Sean Walker also each found the back of the net.
When I asked Mike Stothers about the performance of what, on the line chart, was the “top line”, Moulson’s unit, he stopped me short of saying that this team has just one top line.
“I’m sure if you asked Brett Sutter and Mitchell, they consider themselves the top line. Moulson and Maillet, they consider themselves the top line. I’m sure Bauman, Kurker and Herr consider themselves the top line, it’s just who’s up next.”
With the depth throughout the lineup, getting goals from forwards on two lines, as well as one from the back end, he added that “we have four top lines and three good pairings.”
While things ended well, they started in the wrong direction with Grand Rapids tallying just seven seconds into the game, a franchise record for the Griffins, as Chris Terry got in behind the defense and beat Ontario netminder Charles Williams on a breakaway. After the Reign settled down, Grand Rapids scored again midway through the second period, before Herr got Ontario on the board. The Notre Dame alum flew down the left wing, around a pair of Griffins in the neutral zone and in to beat Patrik Rybar.
Ontario tied the game and took the lead with a pair of Moulson goals. First, Roy’s shot from the point was turned aside but Moulson drove the net and poked home the rebound for his fourth tally of the season. Less than two minutes later, Moulson struck again as he one-timed home a Roy feed for the goal.
The Reign doubled their advantage with 6:23 left in regulation as Walker tallied his team’s third power-play goal of the evening, a shot from the right point through heavy traffic in front. Grand Rapids pulled one back with under four minutes to play as Terry got his second of the game, but the Reign held on for the win.
Ontario is back in action tomorrow evening in Milwaukee, with another 4 PM puck drop, Pacific time.
On his team’s resilience coming from two-goals down in the win
You’ve got to learn how to win and this team, it’s been a little bit slower start than we were hoping for and it’s been a battle to get some wins. Earlier on, we were finding a way to get a point and not getting that second one. I guess we’re used to falling behind, maybe not seven seconds into it, but it just shows the good character we have on our team. We’re building something here, there’s a good process that’s going forward and it was a bit of a tough battle until we got our legs going with the way we traveled yesterday, it was a long day. We did a good job. Our special teams did a great job tonight on both sides. Three power-play goals and we didn’t give one up. It’s a good, solid team win for everybody.
On the special teams success
It’s like anything else, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but you’ve got to stay with it. I’m sure there’ll be something else that we can talk about tomorrow. But for the moment? It was good, it was great. That’s what it’s all about, special teams makes a difference.
On Matt Moulson’s Play
It’s good for Mouly, a couple of goals in his 900th pro game. He’s a good veteran leader on this team and it’s good to see him get rewarded. He battles hard, he plays hard. For a guy that’s had a pretty distinguished career and he goes above and beyond night after night. He’s a good role model.