Quinton Byfield’s first professional hat trick powered the Ontario Reign (12-6-0-1) to a 5-2 win over the Bakersfield Condors (8-11-1-0) Sunday night at Toyota Arena which also featured 27 saves from goaltender Cal Petersen in between the pipes. The Reign have now won five of their last six games during a lengthy homestand that will wrap up on Wednesday night against Henderson.
Two of Ontario’s five goals came shorthanded, including a penalty shot strike by Rasmus Kupari. Frederic Allard also scored his first goal of the year in the third period to extend the Reign lead and Cameron Gaunce had his first multi-point effort of the season with two assists.
More from head coach Marco Sturm, Allard and Gaunce below.
Byfield put Ontario in front just 31 seconds in, slamming home a feed by Lias Andersson from behind the net who had goaltender Ryan Fanti moving the wrong way in the crease. A second assist on the play was credited to Gaunce.
The Reign held their lead into the second period, when Byfield added on with his sixth strike of the season off the rush. Tyler Madden shuffled the puck over the blue line to an oncoming Byfield, who pulled it to his forehand and wristed a shot to the top left corner of the net. Once again it was Gaunce who recorded the second helper on the goal.
Almost six minutes later, while Ontario was killing a holding penalty to Gaunce, Kupari used his skating prowess to step past the Bakersfield defense on a breakaway. His attempt was impeded and as a result, Kupari was awarded a penalty shot. The attacker made good on his opportunity, slowing down and stickhandling the puck in between the legs of Fanti to score his fourth goal of the season on the first penalty shot for the Reign this season.
The Condors got on the board at 6:28 of the third when Xavier Bourgault scored during 4-on-4 play to put make it a 3-1 game.
But Ontario responded less than 30 seconds later. Samuel Helenius earned a clean faceoff win in the offensive zone directly to Allard, who quickly blasted the puck into the net to extend the lead back to 4-1.
Bourgalt netted his second of the night for Bakersfield on the power play at 14:20 to get the visitors one closer at 4-2, but the Condors pulled Fanti in search of another tally and Byfield took advantage, scoring into an empty net to complete the hat trick unassisted at 14:50.
Petersen racked up 27 saves for the second straight game, improving to 2-0-0 this week with Ontario. Fanti turned aside 18 shots at the other end of the ice for Bakersfield in a losing effort.
The Condors outshot the Reign 29-23 on the night and netted the lone power play goal of the game, going 1-for-6 on the man-advantage while Ontario finished 0-for-4.
On tonight’s game
For some reason, we always have trouble against them, but we’ll take that win today. We had some good moments and some no-so-good moments, and those are things we just have to try to fix and try to make better. I think we know we can play better. It’s just a mindset for me, and I know the guys can do it. There are some nights where we have some boring moments too, but you’ve got to stay focused, stay hungry, and play to your potential for 60 minutes. We’re just not doing it yet.
On Cal Petersen’s strong effort tonight and overall mindset in the AHL
Cal is a professional. He got sent down, and he’s still the same Cal I knew with the Kings. That shows a lot. That shows the kind of person he is. I’ve been around him the last three or four years and now seeing him here for just four days, he’s exactly the same. He’s focusing on playing and getting his game back, and that’s exactly what he does. We’re very fortunate and we’re lucky to have him right now in our room.
On having to deal with two 10-minute misconducts
I think when you get a 10-minute [misconduct], I think we can control it. There were some bad calls, but it goes both ways. That’s what I notice in this league. It’s different [than the NHL]. There will always be a lot of penalties for both sides and we just have to deal with it. But the 10 minute [penalties] are on us.
On tonight’s win
I think we’ve just played as a team, even when the team goes out, we just stick together and stuck to our structure all game long. It wasn’t pretty at the start. Cal was unreal both games this weekend and helped us win. I think he came down with a great attitude and it showed in those two games. He made some big saves when it was time, and he gave us some confidence.
On playing with Tobie Bisson
It’s good. We have great chemistry. I think you can see it on the ice every game we’ve played together. It’s been good that we can talk in French. I know the language barrier can sometimes make it a little bit easier. We travel together and we hang out together, so the chemistry is unreal. I love playing with him. He makes the game way easier for me. I feel like we’re two d-men who are completely different. He’s a big, more stay-at-home [defenseman], he can move the puck to the corner and gets hit. I’m more of the moving puck [player] of the unit, so I move the puck and see the ice pretty well. He does too, but we just complement each other. He’s hard to play against. I think having two different styles make us a good pair.
On scoring his first goal of the season
I felt good. I wanted it and felt it. Sammy [Helenius] had a big faceoff win there and I just teed it up and got lucky when it went in. I’m happy about it. Big props to Big Sammy for that faceoff win.
The Reign and Silver Knights drop the puck Wednesday night at Toyota Arena beginning at 7 p.m.