Cal Petersen led the way with 27 saves, including 13 in the third period, to preserve a two-goal lead for the Ontario Reign (11-6-0-1) in a 3-1 victory over the Colorado Eagles (13-5-1-0) on Friday night at Toyota Arena.
TJ Tynan and Jordan Spence each posted two points in the victory, while Taylor Ward and Alan Quine also found the back of the net. The win was Ontario’s third in their last four games and stopped an unbeaten streak for Colorado that was at 11 games.
More from head coach Marco Sturm, Petersen and Spence below.
Ontario used the power play to build a lead during the first, scoring twice during three man-advantage opportunities. The opening goal of the evening came on a blast by Spence, who slapped the puck into the top left corner of the net from the right point for his second goal of the season. Assists on the tally went to both Tynan and Rasmus Kupari.
The Eagles tied up the game at 1-1 just 1:06 later on a shot by Ben Meyers from the left circle that beat a screened Petersen.
But the Reign got back in front less than four minutes after the evening strike with another power play goal. Again it was Tynan who made the pass to set up the tally, hitting a open Ward for a wrist shot from the right circle. Ward’s fourth goal of the season also had a second assist credited to Spence.
Quine tacked another goal on to the lead in the final minute of the first, deflecting a shot by Tobie Bisson from between his legs into the top right corner of the net. The strike ended up as the final tally of the game and had a second assist from Bisson’s defensive partner Frederic Allard.
Petersen shut the door from there, stopping the last 20 shots he faced in the contest over the final 49 minutes, including a Colorado shorthanded breakaway opportunity by Zach Tsekos.
The Eagles pulled netminder Jonas Johansson with five minutes to play in the third period during a power play opportunity but were unable to get any closer on the scoreboard. Colorado shooters hit the post twice late in the game during the desperation comeback attempt.
Ontario finished 2-for-7 on the man-advantage during the contest while holding the Eagles to an 0-for-3 mark. Colorado finished with 28 shots on goal while the Reign posted 23 chances. Johansson turned out 20 attempts in a losing effort between the pipes for the visitors.
On tonight’s win
It was a good team effort with good special teams and good goaltending. I thought our five-on-five play was pretty solid. I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous going in because there were a lot of changes, and a few guys had been sick or hurt too, so you never know, but it was a good overall game.
On Cal Petersen returning to Ontario
He’s good. It’s not just his fault [in the NHL]. Obviously, he needs to be better, but we had a good chat yesterday. He’s an outstanding person and a good goalie, and he showed it today. He just needs confidence, just like everyone; a player or a coach. We all need confidence to bring out game and that’s why the Kings [sent him down]. That’s why he’s here and we’ll all try to help him, but he’s going to be the first one who’s going to work the hardest. I know that because that’s just the way he is.
On the team’s confidence playing with Petersen
The guys feel it. We all felt it yesterday in practice. I think the guys were happy to have him. Cal, he doesn’t want to be down here [in the AHL] but I think he felt really good yesterday to. Today was a good game, and even after the game, he got rewarded with being the best player of the game. That shows that we’re all happy to have him because he’s an outstanding goaltender and just trying to help.
On Taylor Ward’s impact on today’s game
He was a little bit up and down the last few weeks and he knew that. We talked about it. He came up big today. I thought he knew the situation, he knew the score, and he knew that we had to kill the penalties. Even when they pulled the goalie, he did a lot of good things. He stepped up and that’s what we need from him every night.
On earning a win in his first game back with the Reign
The guys battled tremendously for me, which was awesome. It’s cool to see them, and a lot of the guys I’m meeting for the first time and they were willing to lay their bodies down for me and block some shots, so that was awesome to see. It was a great team win, especially being down a man at the end, getting some huge blocks and a lot of sacrifices was really cool.
On returning to the AHL
It’s different. It’s an adjustment but I’m going to make it the best thing for me at the time right now. For where I want to be, this is the route to get there, so that’s how I’m going to look at it. It was a bit of a shock, and a bit of an adjustment, but it’s a reality. All you need is a net to showcase yourself, to show who you are, and to show what you can be. I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to come down here and play.
On receiving an ovation from the fans and playing with new teammates
It was cool. It was a bit nostalgic. You don’t ever really know where your hockey career is going to take you. I think I’m very fortunate to have a great opportunity down here with a great group of guys. They accepted me right away and obviously battled for me tonight. That’s the most important thing, that these guys were willing to do that for me and accept me as one of their new teammates. I’m just hoping to help them win a few games and do whatever I need to do to support them.
On being goalie partners with Matt Villalta again
It’s awesome to be back with him. He’s been one of my favorite goalie partners. He’s an all-time kid and a fantastic goaltender too. There’s things that I take away from him and I hope there’s things he takes away from me, so its fun for us to be back together on the ice and having some fun. He likes to keep it light and joke around a little bit, which puts a smile on my face, so I’m very fortunate to have him again. He’s a great person.
The Reign are back in action on Sunday afternoon when they host the Bakersfield Condors inside Toyota Arena at 5 p.m.
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