Tyrell Goulbourne scored in his first appearance for the Ontario Reign (18-13-0-1) Friday night, a 3-1 win over the San Diego Gulls (11-25-0-0) at Pechanga Arena in the first contest of a weekend home-and-home series.
Martin Chromiak and Jacob Moverare also found the back of the net in the victory, while Aidan Dudas earned an assist for the third straight game and Matt Villalta stopped 17 of 18 shots to earn the win for Ontario.
More from head coach Marco Sturm and Goulbourne below.
The Reign had their best chance in the early part of the game when Nikita Pavlychev found Chromiak open in neutral ice for a breakaway, but goaltender Lukas Dostal was able to stop his attempt.
Ontario continued to control play in the opening period but were unable to solve Dostal despite outshooting San Diego 17-3 in the first 20 minutes.
Goulbourne put Ontario ahead with a goal in his Reign debut off a rebound at 8:18 of the second after a chance by Austin Wagner was stopped by Lukas Dostal. A second assist on the play was credited to Jacob Moverare.
San Diego evened the game at 1-1 on a shorthanded wraparound goal by Michael Del Zotto at 4:11 of the third, but Ontario was able to answer right back before their power play opportunity ended.
1:13 after the equalizer, Taylor Ward fed the puck to the net and Chromiak banged the biscuit into the Gulls’ net to put the Reign back in front, 2-1. Chromiak’s second goal of the season also came with a second assist from Dudas, who has now recorded helpers in three straight games and has 13 points on the season.
Ontario killed the only San Diego power play of the night, a tripping penalty to Cameron Gaunce with less than 5 minutes to play in the third and didn’t allow any chances thereafter, preserving the lead by keeping the Gulls away from their net.
With 1:26 left on the clock and Dostal on the San Diego bench in favor of an extra attacker, Moverare wristed the puck from his own end the length of the ice and into the empty net to seal the victory for the Reign. The lone assist on the final goal of the night was credited to Villalta.
Dostal made 35 saves for San Diego in a losing effort, while Ontario went 1-for-3 on the power play despite allowing a shorthanded goal.
On tonight’s win
I thought we played well today, start to finish. Yes, it was close, but I thought we had a lot of chances and we just find the back of the net. We faced a pretty tough goalie today. Overall, I think we were the better team today.
On Tyrell Goulbourne’s Reign debut
He was really good. I know he’s been really excited since he got here. He’s a really good kid and he’s fit in right away, especially with his attitude and energy. The guys can feel it too in the locker room, so they were really jacked up when he had the fight, and he got it out right away. It’s been awhile for him too. Then he scored a big goal for us. I’m very happy about his game, and I’m glad he scored and had a good night.
On Martin Chromiak’s progression
He has a gift and not too many guys have that. He shows it once in a while, but he’s not even close. I think he’s not even close to where he can be and that’s exciting. We still have to work with him, but he has had some really good moments, and lately, it’s ending up in the back of the net. That’s always good for his confidence. I’m really excited for his future. He’s willing to put in the work as well and that’s important too.
On only allowing one power play opportunity
It’s something totally new. In this league, I usually see penalties left and right, but we skated well today. We checked up with our legs, stayed pretty calm, and the referees saw that. We had to pick up a big penalty kill at the end, but it was just a solid overall game tonight.
On coming out of retirement to join the Reign
It’s been a tough few years for me, on and off the ice. A few months back, I was kind of getting through some stuff and I was feeling really good about myself. It was kind of a spur of the moment type thing and I called my agent and said I wanted back in. Since that day, I was focused on getting in shape and getting back to playing, but I couldn’t picture it going as well as it has so far. It’s been a great group, and not just on the ice, but they’ve helped me out so much off the ice. It’s been really big for me to be here.
On fighting Travis Howe early in the first period
I knew who he was and I knew he was going to be looking for it, so I might as well get it out of the way early. He caught me pretty good with the first punch, but I thought I hung in there pretty well.
On scoring the opening goal in his Reign debut
Such a good feeling. I don’t even know what to say. I’m pretty emotional about it right now. I got a nice little puck that says “first goal of your second career,” so its just been kind of surreal tonight.
On heavily contributing to the win in his first game
These are the things that I’ve always done as a younger player. I wasn’t always a goal scorer but I was able to contribute a little bit. I think getting that fight out of the way and settling my nerves a little bit, really set me down for the rest of the game. It was huge to get that goal for me, it was a little bit of a confidence builder, but again, I’m just excited for the next one.
The two teams will complete the weekend series on Saturday in Ontario at Toyota Arena beginning at 6 p.m.