1/26 REIGN FINAL – Reign 5, Roadrunners 1 – Sturm, Chromiak, Hudon

Led by Martin Chromiak and Charles Hudon who both totaled four-point nights, the Ontario Reign (22-14-3-1) opened their weekend with a 5-1 win over the Tucson Roadrunners (24-13-1-1) Friday night at the Tucson Convention Center. Chromiak scored three times to record his second-career hat trick for Ontario and was named the No. 1 star of the game.

Erik Portillo made the start in between the pipes for the Reign and secured the victory with 41 saves, including 15 in the first period to help stake Ontario to an early lead. Akil Thomas was also a major factor in the team’s scoring effort during the win with a goal and two assists.


Penalties were also a big part of the contest, with the clubs combining for 84 penalty minutes that led to the Reign going 3-for-7 on the power play while holding Tucson to a 0-for-3 result on the man-advantage.

Ontario’s five-forward unit found paydirt early in the game, with Chromiak picking up his first goal of the night to make it 1-0 at 2:11 with assists by Hudon and Thomas.

The helper gave Thomas a new career-high in scoring, which he added to later in the contest. Through 40 games this season, Thomas has totaled 29 points on 14 goals and 15 assists.

Tucson controlled play for most of the opening frame, but they were unable to solve Portillo, who stopped all 15 shots that were put toward his net in the first.

The Roadrunners got on the board with their lone strike of the night at 4:03 of the second when Nathan Smith tied the game with a goal that came just four seconds after a high-sticking penalty to Hayden Hodgson expired.

Thomas put Ontario back in front for good at 11:17, converting off a pass by Alex Turcotte on a 2-on-1 deep in the Tucson zone. Taylor Ward, the third member of line, earned the second assist on the play.

Chromiak added to the lead before the end of the middle stanza with his second tally of the game at 16:12 to make it 3-1 Ontario. An initial shot by Hudon was saved, but Chromiak knocked in the rebound from a sharp angle close to the goal line. Blueliner Kevin Connauton recorded the second helper on the goal for his fourth assist of the season.

While the Reign were on the power play at 5:46 of the third, Chromiak completed the hat trick with his 11th goal of the season from Hudon, who had primary assists on all three of the goals, as well as captain TJ Tynan.

Hudon then capped off the scoring with the final goal of the night less than three minutes later, posting his 14th of the year on the power play at 8:24 from Thomas and Chromiak.

Other penalties in the game included two fights late in the second period. Hodgson dropped the gloves with Tucson’s Ben McCartney at 16:24, while Connauton shed the mitts with Curtis Douglas at 19:53.

Former Reign netminder Matt Villalta started for the third time against his old team this season and turned out 22 shots in a losing effort.

Marco Sturm
On tonight’s win in Tucson
They came out pretty good. They skated, they were hungry, and we just scored at the right time. Portillo kept us in the game early, so I give him credit. I also give my team credit because they stuck with it and came back better and skated better in the second period. In the key moments, we just scored, and that was a big difference.

On staying in control during a chippy game
We’ve been working on this and it seems like we have ourselves in better control on the road for some reason. The pressure was on the other team and we settled everything down. We knew we were going to have good goaltending, and the power play came through, so there was a lot of good things.

On the way Tucson plays
They’re good. I think they’ve come a long way. I told the team, its not the Tucson team from the past. They really stepped up this year in the way they play. They play really fast. They have a good mix and they can play hard too, so we’ve just got to make sure that defensively we do our job, and when you do that, you’re going to get some chances. That’s what happened today.

On Martin Chromiak’s hat trick
He was dangerous and I think he feels more and more comfortable playing with Tynan and Hudon, and they like him. I know that because of what we saw today. He can be a real threat. He can skate and he can shoot. Sometimes we want him to play a little bit harder and dirtier, but we’re working on that. He’s getting much better at it, and again, he’s one of those guys who made a big stride this year and we’re going to continue to work with him.

Martin Chromiak
On bouncing back with a win tonight
I think, given the losses we had, we still played pretty good hockey. Unfortunately, we lost. Sometimes you play good, and you lose. Sometimes you play bad, you win. I think we’re pretty happy about our game [tonight] and I just knew we had to score more goals, so that was the goal for today.

On practicing with five forwards on the power play
That was the most important thing to practice because its always new for everybody, especially Tynes playing in a different position. For me, it wasn’t different because I played with five forwards [on the power play] in Kingston, so basically my whole OHL career. I think we got the job done and it was important.

On his hat trick
It was great. I was just trying to focus on shooting for the past couple of weeks. I didn’t score goals but I stayed positive about shooting, and it has to go in at some point. It felt good playing with [Tynan and Hudon]. It’s great that they’re always looking for me, so my job was to put the puck in. Unfortunately I didn’t the last couple of games, but I’m happy it went in today.

On staying in control of the game
We know that this is the way they play, so we just tried to outwork them and not play their game, and play our game. It was pretty positive for us.

Charles Hudon

The Reign and Roadrunners complete their two-game series on Saturday night at the Tucson Convention Center at 6 p.m. PT.

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