A goal at 6:08 of overtime by Gustav Rydahl gave the Colorado Eagles a 3-2 win over the Ontario Reign on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the teams’ best-of-3 Pacific Division First Round series at the Budweiser Events Center.
Ontario got both of their goals in the second period of the contest from forwards Nate Thompson and Tyrell Goulbourne and outshot the Eagles 32-21 during the contest. Game 2 of the series will take place on Friday night in Loveland, Colorado at 6:05 p.m. PT.
More from Reign head coach Marco Sturm, Goulbourne and Andre Lee below –
Cal Petersen got the start in between the pipes for Ontario and turned aside 18 shots in a losing effort, while Justus Annunen picked up the win for Colorado with 30 saves.
The two teams began the game by holding each other off the scoreboard during the opening period. Ontario had the last five shots on goal in the frame and held a 9-8 edge in attempts on net during the first 20 minutes.
Thompson opened the scoring at 1:57 of the second to put the Reign in the lead, netting the team’s first strike of the postseason to make it 1-0 by finding a loose rebound in the crease and lifting it over Annunen. Assists on the tally went to both Cole Krygier and Martin Chromiak.
The Eagles evened things back up at 1-1 less than four minutes later when Charles Hudon deflected a shot from the point into the top corner of the net at 5:43.
But the Reign went back in front at the midway point of the middle period when Goulbourne, who was open in the slot, used a wrist shot to beat Annunen off a feed by TJ Tynan. The goal, which came at 10:16, also had an assist credited to Jacob Moverare.
During the second period the Reign controlled the game and had an 18-4 edge in shots on goal.
Ontario carried its lead into the final frame, but just 3:52 into the third, with one second remaining in Colorado’s first power play of the game, Cedric Pare tied the score up at 2-2 with a wrist shot from the point through a screen.
The game remained even for the remainder of the third, which included excitement for the fans in attendance at 10:33 when Aidan Dudas dropped the gloves with Colorado’s Ryan Wagner and received the first fighting major of his career.
Rydahl’s winner ended the game just seconds after Ontario had its best chance of overtime, a shot from the slot by Jordan Spence that came inches from being a game-winner but instead hit the post to the right of Annunen and stayed out of the net.
Colorado scored the only power play goal of the game on their only opportunity in the third while the Reign ended the contest with an 0-for-4 mark on the man-advantage.
On Nate Thompson’s impact
He just brings so much to our team, to the locker room, to the faceoffs, and to the penalty kill. There are so many things. Even on the bench, he calms things down. Don’t forget, we’re one of the youngest teams in this league, even with an older guy like Thommer, so that shows you those kids need to learn a lot. I very happy that he’s back again from his injury and I’m not surprised he had a good day.
On the power play coming up empty
Our drive to want to score was a little bit missing. We were a little bit too casual with the breakouts and entries. We had some shot opportunities, but we never really felt good about it. That’s something we have to get better at because, all season long, I think we’ve won hockey games because of special teams. If we don’t [get better] its going to be hard for us.
On the fourth line’s impressive performance
They kept it simple. They plugged away and got in their faces, and that’s what we needed. It’s been a good line for us for a long stretch now, and they showed it today. I think everyone stuck with it the whole time and we hadn’t seen that for a bunch of games this year. There were a lot of good things. We just have to build on those kinds of things and make sure we’re going to get some rest today and tomorrow, and then we’re going to get back at it.
On Friday’s must-win game
I think our guys are used to that crowd. They always give good emotion. I actually get excited too, and hopefully the gys do too, but don’t forget that [Colorado] is under pressure too, not just us. We don’t want to lose but also they have to find a way to close us out. Its not one-sided. If we’re going to stick with the game plan and play like we played today, I think we will be fine. It’s going to be a good test for us to see who can hold it and play the same way the longest, and who makes little mistakes. That makes a big difference. We will be ready to play and we will be fine.
On his first playoff experience
I felt great. It’s tough out there and I like it. There’s a lot of physicality and I think we did well. It was a good game today and we just have to come back on Friday and do the same thing.
On when the team should take from tonight into Friday’s game
I think we definitely played a structured game. We didn’t have many turnovers, we played behind their D, and we got guys to the net. That’s how Thommer scored. We got the puck to the net for a rebound. It was mostly a structured game and it was physical. We’re ready for Friday.
On having Nate Thompson back in the lineup
It’s great. He’s a role model. He takes care of me and also a lot of the other young guys, and the whole team basically. He’s a leader. To see him also score a goal was great. He talked about it before the game and [told us] to get to the dirty areas, and that’s exactly what he did. We’ve got to do that next game as well.