REIGN FINAL – Reign 3, Wranglers 2 (OT) – Sturm, Andersson

The Ontario Reign (21-15-1-1) scored twice in the final six minutes to force overtime and defeated the Calgary Wranglers (28-10-2-0) for the first time 33 seconds into the extra session on Lias Andersson’s second goal of the night Wednesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Andersson, who also had the equalizer on the power play with 2:11 to play in the third, continued a recent hot stretch that has now seen him score eight goals in his last eight games. Austin Wagner also found the back of the net for the second straight day with a shorthanded strike and captain TJ Tynan added two assists in the victory.


More from head coach Marco Sturm and Andersson below.

Matt Villalta stopped 27 Wranglers shots to pick up his seventh win of the season for Ontario. The win was also the Reign’s first against Calgary netminder Dustin Wolf this season, who has started all five contests against Ontario and earned wins in each of the first four.

Calgary found the back of the net first and claimed an early lead when a shot by Mitch McLain deflected in off Ben Jones at 3:34 of the opening period.

The Reign had multiple chances to respond, including two power play opportunities that saw them pile up 19 shots on goal in the period, but Wolf turned aside all attempts that came his way to hold Ontario off the scoreboard in the first.

At 6:55 of the second, Nick DeSimone found himself open at the center of the zone and beat Villalta under the left pad to extend the Wranglers lead to 2-0.

Calgary had the better of the looks for the remainder of the middle period, but Villalta came up with multiple stops to keep the Reign within two prior to the third.

Although Ontario didn’t record a shot for the first 14 minutes of the third, they began a comeback bid on when Wagner converted on a shorthanded breakaway at 14:35 while Aidan Dudas was serving a slashing penalty. Tynan led the Calgary native behind the defense with a lead pass and Wagner put the puck past Wolf for his ninth goal of the season.

Then after a tripping penalty to Calgary’s Ilya Solovyov with 2:22 to play, the Reign used their timeout and pulled Villalta for an extra attacker in search of a tying goal. On the ensuing faceoff, the puck bounced free to Andersson and after a scrum at the side of the net, the Smogen, Sweden native poked the puck over the line to tie the game at 2-2. The lone assist on the late tally went to Alan Quine.

33 seconds into overtime, Andersson sped past the Wranglers’ skaters and beat Wolf with a deke in the crease for the game-winner. Tynan and Jordan Spence picked up assists on Andersson’s team-leading 17th goal of the season.

Tynan has now reached 40 assists on the season for the sixth time in his career and ranks third in the AHL in overall scoring with 46 points.

Andersson’s power play strike was the only man-advantage goal of the game, as Ontario finished 1-for-5 on the power play while holding Calgary to 0-for-2. The Reign also held a slim 30-29 edge in shots on goal during the contest.

Marco Sturm
On the way his team pulled out the victory with a late comeback
That shows that anything can happen. We had some opportunities, we just didn’t hit the net but a two-goal lead in today’s game is very dangerous too. We kept plugging away and Wags got us a goal and then the power play where we pulled the goalie and we’re just happy that we tied it up and  Lias obviously finished it with a nice goal in OT.

On the team’s special teams play that made the difference
We’ve always said it in the past, it seems like especially with our team, special teams are a big deal and our power play was not pretty today, they had a good PK first of all and we couldn’t find a way to get it going. But it took us to the end and like I said it was not pretty but we take that tying goal and that shows how big it is for us to have good special teams every night.

On the play of Wagner, who scored in each game of the series
I’m happy for him. He’s from here. He always loves to come, everyone loves to play at home and I think he always played good hockey, but not just this weekend. I think lately, he’s just playing much better. You can tell he’s a veteran, he’s been around for a little bit now and the team needs him. So he responded big time this weekend and in the past lately with some nice goals.

On the play of Villalta, who got the win with some big saves late in the game
The first one was a tough one but it got tipped and we didn’t get him any help. Even on the second goal, he didn’t get much help either. So unfortunately, it kind of ended up back in our net but he came up big in the end and after we scored to tie it up they pushed us a little bit and he made some good saves and was pretty calm in net tonight and I’m glad he got the win.

On what he’s seen from Andersson, who is leading the team in goal scoring
For me, it looks like he has a lot of fun playing. He’s very motivated. He wants to be the difference and he wants to win too. He hates losing, and you can feel it. We all feel it, the team feels it on the bench, in the locker room and on the ice. And he’s showing that for a while now. That’s the Lias I know. I’ve been together with him for a couple of years and he’s a very, very talented kid and comes up big in big moments and that’s what he does right now.

On if the win may energize the team going into two more games this weekend
It’s always hard to play top teams and it seems like here in January for us we play a lot of good teams and we’ve hung in there pretty good. Coming here, we’ve never beaten this team and it would have been a tough one for sure if we left Calgary again with no points in our bag so that’s why I’m very glad we snuck one out here in Calgary. We have a tough one coming up again next weekend and we have another few guys hurt again so it’s not going to get easier but I think we’re going to take it day by day. We’re going to enjoy the one tonight and get some rest tomorrow and then move on again against San Diego.

Lias Andersson
On being able to come back against Calgary, a team they hadn’t beaten yet
I thought we stayed with it pretty good. We had some chances and we stayed with it and it was nice to see that puck go in to tie it up and get one on the PK too. I think we did a good job staying with it, even if we weren’t playing our best game but we stayed with it and we definitely deserved a win here. We played some good games against this team but fell short every time so yeah, nice win and well deserved I think.

On the play of Austin Wagner
He’s been great. He’s been great ever since he came back from injury. You can tell why he has almost 200 NHL games in his career. He’s a real good player, he uses his speed and has a good shot, so we’ve been more than happy to have him on our line and he’s been huge for us.

On the team’s plan to try and tie it with the late power play and extra attacker
The plan was to first win the draw. That’s kind of the main thing going into to a 6-on-5 or power play to win the draw and kind of take it from there. You know, 6-on-5 is hard, just try to get the puck to the net and I got a lucky bounce there. It bounced out to me and the goalie poke-checked me because I was trying to just get it to the net and yeah, then it bounced out to me and the puck went in somehow, I banked it off him so yeah, it was not much planned or written up, it just kind of happened and it was nice to see go in.

On what he saw in overtime to score the winning goal
First of all, like, winning the faceoff again, like we did on 6-on-5 is key in OT when it’s a 3-on-3 so good job there by Tynan and then I had some gas left in the tank and I saw they were flat-footed, so I just tried to beat the defense wide and luckily I got a 1-on-1 with the goalie and made a good move and it went in.

Ontario will travel to San Diego to begin their weekend with a game against the Gulls on Saturday at 7 p.m. before returning home to Toyota Arena for a matchup against the Wranglers on Sunday at 5 p.m.

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