Jakob Pelletier scored twice in the second period and Dustin Wolf stopped 33 shots to send the Calgary Wranglers (21-7-1-0) past the Ontario Reign (15-11-0-1) by a 3-1 score to close out 2022 on Saturday night at Toyota Arena.
Alex Turcotte scored the lone goal for the Reign in defeat, while Cal Petersen made a total of 21 saves for Ontario in his eighth AHL appearance of the 2022-23 season.
More from head coach Marco Sturm and forward Nate Thompson below.
Ontario had the better of the chances in the opening period and outshot Calgary 13-7 in the first 20 minutes but were unable to solve Wolf in the early going. The best opportunity for the Reign came when Austin Wagner found himself on a breakaway but his shot hit off the post and stayed out.
Calgary took the lead in the second with two goals by Pelletier on the power play at 2:26 and 16:46 and the Wranglers had control of the contest by the end of the middle frame, 2-0.
Turcotte got Ontario on the board with a diving wrist shot during a scramble in front of the Calgary net that slipped by Wolf and into the cage to make it 2-1 at 11:30 of the third.
But the Reign were unable to get any closer in the closing minutes, which included a late power play after a penalty to Calgary’s Ilya Solovyov for interference with 1:08 to play.
The Wranglers won the special teams battle in the contest, going 2-for-7 on the power play while holding Ontario off the board at 0-for-5. Overall, the Reign had a 34-24 edge in shots on goal.
On tonight’s game
I think the first 30 minutes were really good. I think we were a much better team, and yes, they had some chances, but overall I liked our game a lot. I liked our energy. We had everyone going and then we took some stupid penalties. Then in the second period, special teams was the difference. We didn’t score on our opportunity and they scored on theirs, and then it was 2-0.
On what has gone wrong on the losing streak
I think we have an ‘on’ and ‘off’ button. Our good is really good, and then we have stretches or even games where it’s the opposite. If you’re not consistent enough, you’re not going to win hockey games. I thought the last few games, even the second game in Calgary, that we played good enough. But we were just not smart enough. There’s a lot of things we just have to get better at and we’ve got to work on. It’s frustrating because we were in a good spot, then [penalties], and all of a sudden we’re behind for some reason. We’re having a tough time coming back when the game is on the line.
On what the team’s New Year’s resolution could be
I think we just cant get frustrated. Yes, we want to play better, but we’ve got to be more consistent. The guys don’t know how to play a complete 60-minute game right now, and as long as we’re not doing that, its going to be hard. I think, even the games we lost, we saw some really good signs and the guys want to work. Maybe we’re going to keep working on it and that’s just the way it is. Now we’ve got to make sure we’re going to win some games also find our game in the new year.
On tonight’s effort
I thought the penalty kill was good for the most part. I thought we were really good five-on-five, but tonight it kind of just came down to special teams. They scored on the power play, we didn’t get the kill, and they got kills and we didn’t score on the power play. That was basically the game.
On Cal Petersen
Cal has been great ever since he came down. He’s been a rock back there for us. He’s made some big saves for us in key moments in the game and he just continues to do that. It’s just too bad we couldn’t get a couple of kills for him tonight.
On playing on a line with Aidan Dudas and Martin Chromiak
Dudas is a guy that works extremely hard. He’s undersized but plays bigger than he is. He plays hard and he’s got some offensive skill and can make some plays. I think the last few games, even though we haven’t won, the chemistry with him and Chromiak is kind of building. You can see we’re starting to get some chances and hopefully they start going in.
Ontario will begin 2023 in Bakersfield for a rescheduled matchup against the Condors inside Mechanics Bank Arena on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m.
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