Despite a late comeback effort by the Ontario Reign (30-23-4-1), three goals in the third period ultimately gave the Calgary Wranglers (42-15-3-0) a 4-3 win on Sunday at Toyota Arena in the back half of a weekend series between the two teams.
Ontario struck twice in the first period to claim an early lead with goals from Martin Chromiak and Tobias Bjornfot before a late tally by Tyler Madden in the third to make it a one goal game. Alan Quine also assisted on two of the Reign’s tallies in a losing effort.
More from head coach Marco Sturm and Quine below.
The Reign took an initial lead at 12:30 of the first off a faceoff to begin their second power play of the game, Quine won the puck over to his right wing Chromiak in the slot and he wasted no time before snapping the puck past goaltender Dustin Wolf to put Ontario up 1-0.
The puck luck continued to be in Ontario’s favor when 1:02 later, Bjornfot scored on a shot that deflected off a Calgary stick and went over Wolf, off the crossbar and right into the net to make it 2-0 for the Reign.
Yan Kuznetsov got Calgary back within a goal at 3:30 of the second, scoring on a low drive that made it 2-1.
The Wranglers then tied the game early in the third when Nick DeSimone used a backhand shot from point blank range to beat Reign netminder Matt Villalta at 4:28 of the final period.
Calgary took their first lead of the contest at 14:57 of the third when Ilya Solovyov scored on a blast from the top of the zone late in a 4-on-4 situation and then scored for the third time in the period to make it 5-4 a minute later at 15:57 on a power play redirect by Cole Schwindt.
A late hooking call on Calgary’s Jeremie Poirier with 2:07 left in the game led to a 6-on-4 advantage for Ontario, which included bringing Villalta to the bench in exchange for an extra attacker. Madden took a pass from Samuel Fagemo and wristed a shot to the top left corner of the net that cut the Wranglers’ lead to 4-3. Quine earned the second assist on the goal, which came at 18:20 of the third.
The Reign had a few more looks in the final minute to try and tie the game, but each were stopped by Wolf, who earned his 35th win of the season with 27 saves.
Ontario outshot Calgary 30-28 in the contest and scored twice on the power play, finishing 2-for-5 on the man-advantage while the Wranglers ended at 1-for-5. Villalta totaled 24 saves while taking the loss for the Reign.
On the overall game his team played
Overall, it was another good game. I also think it’s just the little details that matter, and the little mistakes. They got some lucky bounces too, and maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe they’re just a little bit better and unfortunately, we lost again. It was two tight games. If you look at the stats, it’s pretty even in both games but unfortunately we came up short. That’s just the way that it is. Overall, with our effort and the way we responded and the way we played, there were a lot of good things. That’s for sure.
On how the game progressed after his team had a 2-0 lead
I think we just felt really good today. We know we had a chance to win a hockey game today. Don’t forget, points-wise, that’s a really good Calgary hockey team that’s one of the best teams in the league. Still, we gave them a good fight but had those few little [mistakes], and I think we can learn from them. Like I said, small details matter, and especially in those types of games. We were just a little bit short.
On Alan Quine’s recent performances and overall impact
His line, for a few games now with Madden, has been doing fine. That’s why I put Quine on the point at the end of the game and on the power play. He has really good hands and he’s a very calm veteran, so I thought we could use that a little bit more when we’re under pressure.
On the last two games against Calgary
I think in both games we took a step in the right direction from the previous games in the streak that we’re on. We could have won both of them and unfortunately it didn’t bounce our way, but we took a lot of positives from it. With playoffs approaching, I think our biggest thing is playing the right way and playing consistent for 60 minutes. I think we did a lot better job of that this weekend against a really good team.
On how the team has worked on creating more offense
I think there’s been a big emphasis on getting more shots through and getting more bodies to the net and creating offense that way, where you can get pucks back and start to play in the zone a little more. I think we did a pretty good job of that this weekend. Like I said, we’re just building off of it and we don’t like the result, but I think our team is getting better and going in the right direction before playoffs.
On his recent performances and playing with new linemates
I’m starting to feel comfortable with the system and more confident in myself as well. I’m playing with some good players too, so its been nice to get on the horse, especially heading into the playoffs. Madden is a pure goal-scorer, so he finds the puck in the slot, and he’s open, and he can really shoot it. Dudas does an amazing job at getting in on the forecheck and he can make plays. Both of those guys are great to play with.
The Reign hit the road for a week-long trip that begins in Abbotsford and ends next week in Tucson. Ontario begins a series with the Canucks on Friday night at 7 p.m. north of the border inside the Abbotsford Centre.