The Ontario Reign moved back to .500, as they snapped a six-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over the San Diego Gulls on Friday evening at Toyota Arena.
The Reign got a goal late in the third period, as Gabriel Vilardi fed Martin Frk with a cross-ice feed and the Reign winger buried his ninth goal of the season from the left-hand circle for the late game winner. Vilardi’s assist was his first point of the season, and the second of his AHL career. Forward Lance Bouma also scored for Ontario, a second-period tally, as the Reign improved to 3-2-0 on the season against the Gulls.
Tonight’s action was one of the more highly contested games of the season and a big win for Ontario to “right the ship” in the words of Head Coach Mike Stothers.
As shared after the game, don’t expect either Vilardi or defenseman Derek Forbort in the lineup for the Reign tomorrow night in Bakersfield. Vilardi’s recovery process continues, which includes an off-day for the centerman tomorrow, while Forbort is expected to soon return to Los Angeles.
Ontario and Bakersfield square off tomorrow at Mechanic’s Bank Arena at 7 PM.
Gabriel Vilardi on creating chances and not getting them to go, like Wednesday
Yeah, same thing. They’re not going in, they’re not going in, sometimes that happens. Just got to keep going I guess, just keep going. I’ve got my chances, I made a few plays, they’re just not going in.
On any chances or moments that stood out
Still just fast plays, thinking the game a little bit faster. The passes, they need to be on point because the game is, I don’t want to say compared juniors because I haven’t really played junior in two years, but you have to put the puck in the right spot for one-timers or whatever it is. If not, guys have to over-handle it and next thing you know there’s a stick in the lane and that took away the goal-scoring opportunity. There’s a few spots I remember, just getting in the right spot coming down on the power play, good look and then I shot it at the guy and he blocked it.
On how much communication he and Mike Stothers have had
He’s kind of letting me be, and I appreciate that honestly. I do my own thing and he’s let me do my own thing.
On the pass to Frk on the game-winning goal
I think it was the end of the power play there, that’s a play I make a lot, I’ve made it a lot my whole life, just a seam. Looking it off and finding it there, looking at the net and it went through the guy’s legs…Frky made a nice play and he finished it. That’s all I can ask, for him to shoot the puck if I can get it to him.
Mike Stothers on getting the win tonight, after the wild third period on Wednesday
It always feels good to win, and it had been what seemed like an extremely long time. In that span, I thought we played some good games and some not so good games. To right the ship after a little lackadaisical performance the other night, it was 8-1 basically, we came back to make it 8-5 but it wasn’t indicative of the way we should be playing. If you can beat San Diego, it feels good.
On creating chances later, but not as much earlier on
I still don’t think we shoot the puck enough when we have the opportunity, we like to look for a pass. For a team that, we’ve got some guys that haven’t scored in a while, we as a group don’t score a lot of goals, you’ve got to put some pucks on net. We’re pleading for Frky to shoot the puck and he finally does and it goes in, that’s the reward. Put some pucks and some volume to the net…I think we’re still a little bit guilty of being a little too cute, or overhandling the puck sometimes.
On Gabriel Vilardi’s play tonight
Yeah, I think he’s getting the chances which is great. I think he falls off a little bit when the shifts get a little bit longer, but that’s a natural thing. I like the fact that there always seems to be something going on when he’s on the ice, the puck seems to follow him around. He makes plays, things happen when he’s out there. I think that’s a tremendous asset to have and I still don’t know what the timeframe is, he’s not playing for us tomorrow. It’s one of those ones where he plays, then he needs a little bit of a break. Once we get into a more regular routine, I think we’ll see even better out of him.
On Cal Petersen’s play tonight
Well, I mean Cal’s been great for us all year. The other night, he was struggling just as much as everybody, but you know what the sign of a good goalie is, when he comes back and he performs the way he did. He wants the net, handles the puck well for us, stops the puck and as we’ve talked about on many occasions, he’s vital in that locker room. He’s just an important piece of what we are, as far as that group. I am a huge Cal Petersen fan, as you guys can tell.
On the penalty kill, including the 4-on-3 kill, to keep it a 1-1 game in the third
Well, at one point, I wasn’t sure if we were short, or it was even, or it was 4-on-4, it was crazy, I’ve never seen anything like it. The special teams guys, they did their jobs tonight and it’s huge. That’s another thing, sometimes the PK looks good, sometimes we look like we’re a little off, but we take too any penalties. Tonight, we took some penalties like slashing at ill-advised times. Again, we’ll talk about that, probably not on the bus on the way there but we’ll address it again tomorrow.
On Mikey Anderson’s play as of late, especially on the defensive end
I’ve seen some growth. The part that came naturally to him in college was probably the offensive side of things. He’s learning the importance of positioning and defending here now, how important it can be, and realizing that you have to be able to play all three zones as a defenseman to be able to make it in the NHL. He’s getting better, and you know what it is, they’re all making strides, but everyone wants to fast track it. I’m the only guy that keeps telling you guys to lay off that gas pedal and let’s be idle for awhile and let them develop. Gotta warm up that car.