Goals by forwards Rasmus Kupari and Taylor Ward were enough for the Ontario Reign (5-1-0) to win their first-ever game at the new Tech CU Arena Wednesday night and hand the San Jose Barracuda (4-1-0) their first loss of the season by a 2-1 score. Goaltender Pheonix Copley was one shy away from being perfect in the contest, making 28 saves to earn his third win.
Both of Ontario’s goals came with assists from Alan Quine, who is now on a four-game point streak. The Reign are now in first place in the Pacific Division and became the first team in the AHL to reach 10 points in the standings.
More from head coach Marco Sturm below.
Kupari wasted no time putting Ontario in front, streaking down the right wing and wristing the puck up and over goaltender Strauss Man just 54 seconds into the game to make it 1-0. Alan Quine picked up the lone assist on the opening tally.
The Reign had multiple chances to extend their early advantage later in the frame as the Barracuda were whistled for three minor penalties, but Ontario was unsuccessful on the man-advantage. The score remained 1-0 after the first with the Reign holding a 12-9 shots-on-goal advantage.
Ward extended the lead to 2-0 with his second goal of the season on a quick wrist shot from the inside of the right circle that went to the top left corner of the net at 9:51 of the middle period. Once again it was Quine who set up the play, securing the puck on the wall before sending it to Ward for the strike.
But San Jose cut the lead back to one before the end of the second when Thomas Bordeleau scored on the power play at 16:12.
Although the Barracuda threatened in the third, the final frame was a stalemate as neither team was able to add any more offense. Copley continued his steady presence, turning aside all nine shots that San Jose sent his way and improved his record to 3-1-0 in four appearances this season, lowering his goals-against average to 1.78.
The Cuda edged out Ontario with 29 shots on net, while the Reign had 28 looks at Mann, who made 26 saves. San Jose did not allow Ontario’s power play to finish a chance, going 6-for-6 against the Reign man-advantage. Ontario allowed Bordeleau’s goal but killed the Barracuda’s other three opportunities.
The Reign are back at home in Ontario for their next game Saturday night against the Bakersfield Condors at 6 p.m.
On how the team played with a one-goal lead in the third
It was definitely our best period. It’s been our best period pretty much all season long. I think guys are really confident now going into the third, especially with the lead. So that showed again today. We probably didn’t play our best hockey today, but you know what, we’re going home with two points against a very good hockey team.
On the play of Pheonix Copley and the way the team plays in front of him
It shouldn’t be like this every time when he’s in net. I know he saved us again, but we just got to make sure that we’re better. Better prepared, better in the first period too, because he is. He’s a perfect example and he’s leading the way every time he plays so we just have to make sure we were on his boat every time he plays this well.
On not being able to convert on the power play
Special teams is always a big key and today we lost special teams and it’s not because of the PK, it was because of the power play. We never really got momentum out of it and I think they created even more chances than we did on the power play so that has to be better. I give them credit. They played a good PK, but you can’t get frustrated and once in a while you have to get it in deep too and work for it and we just didn’t do it. That’s something we would definitely have to address moving forward.
On the play of Quine
He’s smart and very skilled, a very likeable player. He’s been really solid for us. That’s what we need from him and I know he had a tough year last year and over the last couple of years, but I feel like he feels comfortable. I also think even he can be better too. I know it always looks good points-wise, but he’s definitely going in the right direction and we’re just happy to have him.