The Ontario Reign battled, battled and battled some more, and at the end of the day came away with a hard-fought point against Colorado on home ice, from a 2-1 overtime defeat on Friday evening.
After the Reign were held scoreless for the first 56 minutes of regulation, defenseman Paul LaDue scored a late goal on the power play with four minutes remaining to tie the game at one and force an extra session. It was the Eagles, however, who capitalized 16 seconds into overtime to earn the extra point, and move four points clear of Ontario for third place in the Pacific Division standings.
Ontario got a standout performance from goaltender Matthew Villalta, who made 28 saves on 30 shots, including several key saves in the first 40 minutes to keep his team in the game. Villalta made an especially athletic glove save in the middle frame, with the score still tied 0-0, that is featured below.
Hello Highlight Reel! What a stop from Matty Villalta!! pic.twitter.com/WA949YJsiu
— Ontario Reign (@ontarioreign) February 22, 2020
Overall, the Reign have now collected a point in 12 of their last 13 games (10-1-2), as they continue to claw towards a playoff berth. Ontario is back in action on home ice on Sunday afternoon, for a 3 PM puck drop at Toyota Arena.
Matt Luff on the team’s third-period success, and grinding to get a point
I think it’s big, but it shows us that you can’t take 40 minutes to just take it off. Our third period was pretty good there, but our first two, I mean, if it was a boxing match they took both of them. At the end of the day, they probably deserved to win that game, but that’s an OT thing and as a veteran guy, I’ve got to make sure I shut that down and have a better gap on that guy, because that’s just a mistake that can’t happen, especially when it’s crunch time like this for those two points.
On what was lacking in the first 40 minutes tonight
I think just execution. You look at passes, I don’t we had over maybe 40% completed on the tape, and I think that’s what it came down to. It’s the little things in the game that get your offense going. If you’re not breaking it out clean, you’re going to have to take a step there and they gain a stride back. I think in the third, we started making tape-to-tape passes and really cleaned up our game. I think if we play even 40 minutes like that, it’s probably a different story.
Mike Stothers on the team’s play in the third period, to come back and earn a point
It’s a hard game, Colorado’s a great team. They skate well, they came in fresh, last time we played them they played the night before so they might’ve been a little bit tired. I thought it was a good game, an excellent hockey game, like you would expect around playoff time. I was proud of the guys that we got a point. I think I said to them after the first period, if I was a boxing judge, I would have gave [Colorado] that round, if you know what I mean. We had 40 minutes to make a difference and I thought we did. I thought we competed, we found a way with four minutes left to tie the game and then it goes into overtime and it’s anybody’s guess. We got a valuable point, considering San Diego won, Tucson and Stockton had to get three points, but anyways, we needed that point and we got it, so that’s good.
On if he felt there was an extra level of desperation in the third period, after killing off 2 penalties
I would have liked to have seen us get a few more power plays. Jaddy gets high sticked in the face, lip’s bleeding all over the place, and they claimed they didn’t see it. That’s a four-minute power play, that’s a big difference, that’s a big miss. That being said, you’ve got to earn your power plays, I guess, we didn’t get as many as they got, but we did a good job of killing. Again, I’ve really got no complaints, I thought the guys played hard and I thought Matty Villalta was really good in net and if you look at it, it’s a big piece of the middle of the ice without Gabe, he’s a big playmaker and he’s a big guy on the power play.
On Anderson-Dolan’s play, and filling more minutes
It was an opportunity to get JAD more ice time. We don’t play tomorrow, we play again Sunday, he is a high energy guy, he loves the workload, so it was just a change to get him a little bit more ice. [Reporter: How do you evaluate where Anderson-Dolan’s game is at, now three quarters through his rookie season?] My expectations, and other people’s expectations probably were that he was going to be way up in the scoring and in the league leaders in points, which I never thought that, and he was what I expected. He’s a guy who came in and it wasn’t easy, he struggled, but because he’s worked hard and because he’s put the time in, he’s a pretty versatile guy, we use him in all situations. This guy is become as complete a player as you can ask for, and he’s still got a long way to go growth wise. I feel comfortable putting JAD in any situation, any matchup, any opposing centerman.