The San Diego Gulls got out in front with three goals in the first period and held off a comeback attempt by the Ontario Reign in the second tilt of a two-game preseason series Monday night in Anaheim at the Honda Center. Forwards Brett Sutter and Johan Sodergran scored for Ontario in the loss, while goaltender Matt Villalta played 40 minutes and turned aside 13 shots for the Reign.
More from Sodergran and Head Coach John Wroblewski below.
San Diego got off to a fast start in the first period, scoring three times in the opening 20 minutes on Reign goaltender Garret Sparks. Alex Limoges opened the scoring at 3:51 for the Gulls, but Sutter evened the game at 1-1 with a wrist shot from the high slot just over a minute later at 4:57.
SD opened up a two-goal lead on tallies by Brogan Rafferty and Vinni Lettieri before the end of the opening frame, but the Reign got back within one during the second when Nikita Pavlychev fed Sodergran for a strike from the bottom of the right circle. Sodergran, who missed all of last season with an injury, had an exciting game, showing off his speed to create multiple offensive opportunities.
Ontario brought in Villalta for the final 40 minutes of play for his only action of the postseason.
The Reign were unable to put anything past San Diego netminder Lukas Dostal in the third, while the Gulls pushed their lead to 4-2 on a goal by Bryce Kindopp at 14:11 and added an empty-net strike by Kodie Curran with a minute to go.
With their preseason game schedule now complete, the Reign have four practices remaining prior to opening night on Saturday, when they host the Gulls
The Reign will have a practice day on Friday at Toyota Sports Performance Center before an off day on Saturday and another practice Sunday afternoon. Ontario will complete their preseason schedule on Monday night against the Gulls in Anaheim at the Honda Center.
On how he felt during the game
I felt good. I played with two good players, got a good pass from [Pavlychev] there as well, and Kemp is doing a really good job so it was fun to play, but unfortunately not the result we wanted.
On his confidence with getting moved up in the lineup
It was really fun. I haven’t played in a while either so I just want to play as much as possible and I’m really grateful for the opportunity.
Overall thoughts on the game
It was a tough start I thought, I really liked the way that we began the game. We controlled the momentum, controlled the flow, I thought we did a lot of really good things in the first period draw penalties, and then some of their veteran players took over at key moments of the period. I’d like to focus more on some of our really good efforts. I liked our entire defensive corps, for the most part, I thought they controlled the flow of the game and made a lot of good passing plays and kept the puck moving north. We had a strong contingent of forwards that also played strong and a couple other performances we need to evaluate and start pointing guys in the right direction.
On the play of Sodergran
I had some strong words for him. He’s a 6-3 thoroughbred power forward when he applies himself and I thought that coming off an injury-ridden season, he really has to hit the ground running here. I thought that after a long rookie camp and training camp maybe he was starting to lose a little steam and I put a good challenge towards him and he really responded today, he started off with a very limited role in the game but he announced his presence and scored a great goal, drew a penalty and had a couple of wall plays during the first period that announced he was ready to play and was ready to go in the trenches. Hopefully, he’ll be one of those projects that comes to fruition for us and plays a key role for the Reign.