The Ontario Reign kicked off a three games in four days span with a convincing 5-1 victory over the Stockton Heat on Friday evening at Toyota Arena.
The Reign got a dazzling effort in net from Cal Petersen, who turned aside 50-of-51 shots faced, while forward Martin Frk scored twice in the victory and Carl Grundstrom and Mikey Anderson each added two assists.
The Reign got the scoring started just 81 seconds into the game, as Gabriel Vilardi knocked home a Grundstrom feed to get the hosts on the board. Frk doubled the lead midway through the frame, as he extended his scoring streak to three games with a breakaway tally. Forward Brett Sutter capped things off late in the third, 1:53 from the final buzzer, as he knocked home a rebound from just outside the crease.
Following Stockton’s lone tally from Glenn Gawdin, which came 45 seconds into the second period, Frk struck again as he unleashed a rocket of a slap shot from the left-hand circle, from a tight angle, that ended Artyom Zagidulin’s evening after 24:06. The Reign capped off the scoring in the third period through defenseman Paul LaDue, who fired a one-timer through traffic and past replacement netminder Jon Gillies.
With the win, Ontario climbs back into the fourth and final playoff position entering tomorrow’s showdown against the Tucson Roadrunners. The Reign are 0-5-0 this season against Tucson, with the final three head-to-head matchups coming in the Inland Empire.
Cal Petersen on if he just felt dialed in coming into tonight’s game
I mean, it was kind of just like any other game. I think I’ve felt that way a lot of times going into games, sometimes it’s a bounce of the puck or just the way things go sometimes and you end up on the wrong side of the scoresheet. I’m confident from the work that I’ve put in and I just needed to go in there and trust myself, so it worked out tonight.
On his play in the third period, and the crazy glove save in the third
I was definitely warmed up by then, so everything was working good, nothing was tight, I was able to get a couple limbs on it there. I was happy.
On if it would be nice to have just a standard win, without the heavy workload
I’ll take the wins however they come, just do my part and help get this team back in the playoffs.
On if it changes his outlook at all when the team gets an early lead like tonight
It definitely helps. Whenever you can put a team on their heels a little bit, and make them squeeze the stick a little tighter, I think it helps. It makes them maybe not play with so much confidence, so I think any time we can get up and get a lead, I think, historically throughout the season we’ve been able to hang onto those. I think that’s a huge part of our game if we want to win.
Mike Stothers on whether tonight just felt like a vintage Cal Petersen performance
That was really good. He just looked so composed, he looked so square, he looked so efficient in net, it was unbelievable. It was an unbelievable performance. I mean, I thought we played well and at the end of the night, you look up and there’s 51 shots against us and I just talked to him, and he’s crediting the fact that his d-core blocked so many shots for him. It’s like okay then, that’s good. I think that’s indicative of what Cal can do.
On the Grundstrom – Vilardi – Frk line
It was good to see that line get on track. Grundy got a couple big assists, obviously Frker with two goals and seeing Gabe score early, that’s what you need out of your big line, your top line. You need that kind of production, right, and it kind of filters on through after that. The good thing with those guys is you know they’re not going to stay quiet for long, it’s only a matter of time. Hopefully, this is a big weekend for us, so hopefully it’ll carry into tomorrow and Monday afternoon.
On Carl Grundstrom’s game
He was hard on pucks tonight, he was getting to the puck first, he was using his size and his strength. You might look at him and think he’s not overly big, height wise, but he’s a big man, he’s a solid guy and I think that’s when he’s at his best is when he’s bumping. It’s almost like he needs to get angry early and then he’s capable of making some good plays. I think that line, it’s just got a little bit of everything for you. Frkster’s just a pure sniper, although he makes some pretty nice plays too. Gabe is kind of that middle guy who just makes plays and sees the ice, so again, it was good to see those guys get on the board.
On Daniel Brickley’s return to the lineup
I actually thought Bricks did real well. First game back since October 5th, that’s a significant amount of time to miss, and I thought he did very, very well. Having said that, I don’t want you guys to read anything into it if he’s not in the lineup tomorrow. The intent going into this was he wasn’t going to play back-to-backs, but here we stand talking about how well he played, but we don’t want to push it. Again, that’s a long time, and I’m sure he’ll feel a little bit more fatigued tomorrow and we do have 9D, so we’re going to try and keep everybody busy, somehow, some way, that’s not going to be easy. We had a good chat with all nine of them the other day to say listen, play as well as you can and you guys can’t control who’s in and who’s out, unless your play clearly dictates that you’re in the lineup, but they’re all quite capable of playing at this level. That’s a luxury that we have right now.