The Ontario Reign bounced back in a big way, with a 4-2 victory over the San Jose Barracuda on Wednesday evening at SAP Center.
After a disappointing defeat against San Jose on Sunday afternoon in Ontario, the Reign got a standout performance from goaltender Matthew Villalta, with a 34-save effort, as they won for the seventh consecutive time on the road. With the victory, coupled with a San Diego loss, Ontario reclaimed the fourth position in the Pacific Division heading into a busy weekend at Toyota Arena.
The Reign got goals from Carl Grundstrom in the first period, and Tim Schaller in the second period, with defenseman Paul LaDue assisting on both tallies. With the score deadlocked midway through the third period, forward Giovanni Fiore got in behind the defense, went to the backhand and roofed his shot past San Jose netminder Josef Korenar for the game-winning goal.
The Reign improved to 11-2-2 in their last 15 games, and are back in action this weekend with home games against Tucson on Friday and Bakersfield on Saturday.
Giovanni Fiore on his breakaway goal
I just saw our d-man had time back there and I figured all three forwards should stretch. He made a nice pass up to Boumer and Boumer put it right on my tape and I came in and just put it in. [Reporter: Is that a move you’ve done before?] Not necessarily, I don’t usually go on my backhand. I’ve been practicing well, so I figured I’d try it.
On getting this win, in the midst of the playoff push
It’s huge. I mean, every night we show up is huge, we have to win every game we can. I want to play in the playoffs, I’ve never played in the playoffs at the pro level yet. The last two years, I’ve been in a similar situation, racing for the playoffs, and I just want to play in the playoffs. I’ll try to help the team as much as I can.
On finding his role with Ontario, after coming in on a PTO
The staff has been great, the coaches have really been helping me a lot. They knew what I was coming into and they gave me my space and let me breathe a bit. I’ve been finding my stride here in the last couple of games. It’s hard coming in, tough to start, but I’m feeling good right now.
On how good his goaltender was in tonight’s win
Unreal. Matty’s been showing up, every since I’ve been here he’s been showing up in the pipes. He’s helping us win games and we just need to keep going right now and push even more.
Mike Stothers on Matthew Villalta’s performance
Not sure who picks the stars here in San Jose, but there is no doubt he was the star of the game. You could’ve asked any of the 200 fans in attendance and they would agree with me. He was sharp in the first when we started a little sluggish. He held the fort until we got our legs going. He made a huge save in the third before Fiore scored the go-ahead goal immediately thereafter. Awesome job Matty V.
On Giovanni Fiore’s goal, and play as of late
Gio has great offensive instincts and a real nose for the net. He likes to score but he has been trying to be more responsible in all zones. It’s hard when a guy comes in mid way through, he has to earn the trust of his coaches and find a role with his teammates. It hasn’t been easy for him, but he is trying hard to contribute and it is paying off.
On getting a win on a night where San Diego lost and the group didn’t have it’s “A” game
There isn’t much margin for error with the standings as tight as they are, and San Diego having two games in hand. We have to win, and we can not afford to give points away. The only thing we can control is how we play. Play well, and we give ourselves a chance to win. Anything less and we make San Diego’s job easier. This group of players want to be a part of the postseason