Two goals in the third period lifted the Colorado Eagles (35-21-6-3) past the Ontario Reign (33-27-4-1) by a score of 4-2 on Wednesday night at Toyota Arena.
Ontario’s tallies came from Lias Andersson and Cameron Gaunce, while Cole Krygier picked up an assist in the contest to earn his first professional point in his second game with the Reign. Cal Petersen suffered the loss for Ontario despite stopping 22 shots.
The Reign took the lead 7:54 into the game with a goal on their first power play of night. After a shot on goal from the right point by Jordan Spence, Andersson scooped up the loose rebound in front of the net and sent it past Colorado goaltender Justus Annunen for his team-high 27th goal of the season. TJ Tynan earned the second assist on the play, his league-leading 65th helper of the year.
Colorado evened things up at 13:49 of the first on a goal by Mikhail Maltsev, knotting the game at 1-1.
It didn’t take long for Ontario to regain the lead when Gaunce grabbed a loose puck in the offensive zone with space to shoot from the right circle. The veteran blueliner picked the top left corner as the spot to score his second goal of the season at 5:05 of the middle period. Assists were credited to both Krygier and Aidan Dudas.
The Reign held a 2-1 lead until the final minute of the second period when Ben Meyers found the back of the net for Colorado with 24 seconds remaining on the clock to even up the game before the second intermission.
After Meyers’ goal, the energized Eagles scored twice more in the third to take control of the game. Charles Hudon scored on the power play at 8:00 of the final frame and Ryan Wagner added Colorado’s fourth tally of the night 33 seconds later at 8:33 to complete the game’s scoring.
Annunen shut the door on Ontario after Gaunce’s goal early in the second, stopping the final 27 shots the Reign put on net during the remainder of the game. The Colorado netminder finished with 36 saves in the road victory for his team.
Both clubs found the back of the net once on the power play, with Ontario going 1-for-6 on the man-advantage while Colorado ended at 1-for-4.
The Reign’s magic number to clinch a spot in the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs remains at five points and the team is still in possession of fifth place in the Pacific Division standings.
His thoughts on tonight’s game
I thought we played a solid game. We were good enough to win, I think. We didn’t score on a lot of our opportunities. We gave up a little bit too much as well, not like the last game or other games in the past where we won. Our defense was a little bit better, I would say, but the guys worked hard today. A lot of them came to play and unfortunately it didn’t go our way.
On Jordan Spence in his return from the Kings
Again, he’s an NHL defenseman and he showed it today. It’s not easy for him either because he didn’t play much with the Kings, so it usually takes those players a few weeks to get going again. Overall, I thought he was better today that in the past when he came back down to us, and especially on the power play. You can see right away the difference he makes when he’s on it.
On Alex Turcotte’s role
It showed when we started playing well that he’s a big part of our success. He fills a big whole, especially with Akil Thomas out. We were hurting a little bit in the middle and he came in and played pretty much the same way even after a long injury. He’s definitely back on the right track here and I can only say good things.
On playing in his second pro game:
I think in the first period I was definitely a little tight. I think I needed to loosen up a little bit. I actually think I was looser in the first game for sure, but I just need to stay consistent and get it done.
On assisting Gaunce’s goal for his first pro point
It was huge. I think it’s exciting. It’s good to get it out of the way because you never know when it’s going to happen. It was just a good play by the forward and then Gauncer with the snipe.
On his time with the organization so far
I think everyone has done a great job welcoming me and making me comfortable. I think the coaches have done a great job. They allow me to play my game and get in there. I think the next few weeks are going to be about consistency. I need to get on the ice and get my hands going and get my feet going. I think when I move my feet, good things are happening for me.
On the strongest parts of his game
I think my feet and my skating have been my strongest things since I was a little kid. I think my habits are really good too. I’ve done a good job working on just trying to turn those in and get them really good, so when I get to this level, I’m not one of those guys that’s missing box outs or having bad stick on puck and stuff like that. I think it’s just going to be about growing and obviously getting stronger. I think the bigger I get, that’ll help me defend guys off. That’s a great place to start.
Ontario continues their homestand on the final day of March when they host the Coachella Valley Firebirds Friday night at Toyota Arena at 7 p.m.