12 skaters registered points and Matt Villalta made 34 saves to send the Ontario Reign (30-18-2-1) past the San Jose Barracuda (21-26-0-4) by a 6-1 final score on Friday night at Toyota Arena. Jacob Moverare also had a big night in the victory, posting a team-high three points with a goal and two assists to tie his AHL career-high.
Other skaters that found the back of the net for Ontario included Jordan Spence, Alan Quine, Samuel Fagemo, Tyler Madden and Kim Nousiainen. With the victory, the Reign moved into a tie for third place in the Pacific Division with 63 points on the season.
More from head coach Marco Sturm, Moverare and Villalta below.
Spence got the scoring started for Ontario at 9:50 of the first period, netting his fourth goal of the season on his 22nd birthday after a great move at the blue line. He skated right to the net and beat a screened Strauss Mann on the short side to make it 1-0. The lone assist on the strike was credited to Samuel Helenius.
The Reign extended their lead to 2-0 just over three minutes later when Quine cashed in off a spinning feed in front by Taylor Ward. Quine’s sixth goal of the year also had a second helper from Martin Chromiak, who has now scored points in seven of his last 11 games.
After a scoreless second frame which saw San Jose put 18 shots on net that were all stopped by Villalta, the Barracuda finally broke through at 2:42 of the third, scoring shorthanded to cut the Reign lead to 2-1 on a tally by Jeffrey Viel.
But Ontario didn’t let their opponent get any closer in the third. At 7:11, Fagemo got behind the defense in 4-on-4 play and Moverare hit him with a perfect stretch pass to set him in on a breakaway. Fagemo made a move to his backhand and snuck the puck inside the left post to make it 3-1 Reign.
Three minutes later during another 4-on-4 situation, Chromiak brought the puck into the offensive zone before beating a defender down the wall on the left wing and dropping it back to Moverare, who blasted a shot to the top right corner of the net to make it 4-1 Ontario.
Madden tacked on an empty-net strike with Mann at the bench in favor of an extra attacker at 17:11 of the third and Nousiainen added an exclamation point to the win with a goal just before the clock expired, his second goal of the season.
Helenius and captain TJ Tynan both had a pair of assists in the game, joining Chromiak and Moverare as skaters with multiple points in the victory.
Ontario was outshot 35-29 in the game by San Jose, but went 2-for-5 on the power play while holding the Cuda to an 0-for-4 mark on the man-advantage. Mann allowed five of the six Reign goals and stopped 23 shots in a losing effort.
On tonight’s bounce-back win
Overall, we had a really good first period. I thought they only had chances on their power play and Matty [Villalta] was really good as well. We wanted to have a good start today and respond from last game, and I think that’s what we did. The second period was our weakness today. We were just sitting back and we took some bad penalties, where we were all of a sudden on our heels, but it was good for the guys to come out again in the third period and finish the job.
On Jacob Moverare’s big offensive night
It’s always nice to see those kind of guys get rewarded. They do so much for us. I’m sure 90 percent of the people in the building watching him every game don’t even know how much he means to our team. He’s a warrior and he does all these things right and he blocks tons of shots. Those guys show up every night, so it was nice to see that he finally got that goal.
On moving up in the Pacific Division standings
We want to move up as much as possible but we want to focus on our games moving forward here. That’s what we’ve done. It’s nice to get rewarded finally to move up a spot but we are not done yet. Other teams, like San Jose and Bakersfield, they’re playing better now, so you cant afford to have a bad game or a bad week anymore. We want to enjoy the next six weeks here by playing good hockey and trying to get better every day.
On tonight’s win
I think we responded well from the game before that obviously didn’t go our way. I think we responded well but then in the second period, we fell back a little bit. We started to maybe take a step back and got a little lucky. Matty saved those two chances in the second and they could’ve easily scored at least one. We got a little room when we went into the intermission and then I think we turned it back to how we started the game.
On setting up Samuel Fagemo for a breakaway goal
We were just trying to get going into the 4-on-4 and I saw Sammy pointing his stick behind the San Jose d-man, so I tried to put it a little bit to their left side. Sammy caught it and it was nice to see him score that. I tried not to show [the pass] too much, but I always try to get the pass away as soon as I can so that the d-man doesn’t feel him coming in behind him.
On his goal and the nice set up from Martin Chromiak
Chromie has it in his repertoire to make that pass and I’ve seen him do it before, so I was kind of thinking he might do it. I think the pass was to Quine but I was lurking in the area and I got it right in my wheelhouse and tried to put some power on it. Then it went in and that was nice to see.
On feeling dialed in from the start of the game
I think I felt good right from when I woke up this morning. I had a good morning skate with Matt [Millar] and some of the boys, so I feel like that always helps when you get your routine going and get started off on the right foot for the first period. I’m going to be honest, I think I drank a little bit too much caffeine so I kind of had the jitters, so I let maybe ten minutes go by to let the caffeine wear off a bit and settle in, and that’s exactly what happened. I just tried to wait on release as long as possible and give myself the best opportunity to make the save.
On how the early penalty kills fueled the team
You can kind of feel our momentum shift after those first couple penalty kills that we had, and credit to the boys. They did a great job allowing me to see everything or blocking shots. I think everyone was just doing their job, which was the biggest part. After those penalties were killed, we kind of started going on a roll there in the first period and the boys put a couple in the pack of the net to give us a two-goal lead.
On if he had ever interacted with more fans after a game than he did tonight
I don’t think so. I think the kids were loving it. I think they’re having a good time and I think they were fired up that we scored six tonight. I remember going to games as a kid at that age, maybe ten or eleven, and whenever there was a lot of goals scored, I was always very excited. Its entertaining, obviously. It’s just kind of cool to see all those little guys and girls running around and enjoying the game and getting to spend maybe 15 to 30 seconds with them. Maybe it makes their day and just makes it an all around fun experience.
The Reign continue their homestand at Toyota Arena on Sunday afternoon for a 3 p.m. battle with the San Diego Gulls.
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