Jakub Brabenec converted for the lone goal of a three-round shootout to give the Henderson Silver Knights (21-20-2-4) a 4-3 shootout win over the Ontario Reign (22-18-3-2) on Friday night at Toyota Arena.
Reign goals during the contest were scored by Tyler Madden, Hayden Hodgson and Charles Hudon, while defender Kevin Connauton had an assist for a sixth consecutive game in a losing effort.
Although the game was scoreless throughout the first period, Ontario had an 11-6 shots on goal advantage during the first 20 minutes.
Henderson took the initial lead at 3:58 of the second on a power play goal by Grigori Denisenko which made it a 1-0 game.
But the Reign responded less than four minutes later when Madden took advantage of a loose puck that got past Silver Knights’ goaltender Isaiah Saville and scored into an empty net to tie up the game at 1-1. The goal, which came at 7:36, had an assist from Akil Thomas who dumped the puck into the zone before it found its way to Madden.
Ontario took a 2-1 lead at 11:01 of the middle frame when Hodgson, who had a disallowed goal earlier in the period when he was whistled for a delayed penalty, scored off a deflection on a shot by Connauton. The blueliner had just come on to the ice and kept the puck in at the left point before firing it to the net, where Hodgson redirected it past Saville.
Hudon gave the Reign a two-goal lead in the final minute of the frame at 19:39 when a pass by captain TJ Tynan went off his skate and into the goal for his 16th tally of the season. The goal, which came with just 21 seconds left in the period, also had a second assist credited to Madden.
The Silver Knights got back in the game during a 26-second span in the third, scoring twice to even the game back up at 3-3 and force overtime. Daniel D’Amato brought it back to a one-goal deficit for the visitors at 10:23 before Sheldon Rempal scored at 10:49.
The five-minute overtime featured just three total shots on goal, with Henderson posting two while Ontario had one. None of the Reign’s three shooters in the skill session were able to beat Saville, with Taylor Ward, Samuel Fagemo and Francesco Pinelli all coming up short.
Saville earned the win with 30 saves, while Erik Portillo suffered the loss for Ontario despite turning out 26 shots. Henderson’s opening goal of the game was the lone man-advantage tally, with the Silver Knights going 1-for-2 and Ontario ending at 0-for-2.
Thoughts from Reign head coach Marco Sturm after the game are below, as well as forward Hayden Hodgson.
On tonight’s game
They didn’t have too much. I think we had full control until that one mistake that led to the 3-2 [score], and that was it. After that, we had trouble. We still had chances, but overtime and shootout for me is always fifty-fifty. Even there, there were plenty of chances. It was unfortunate. The guys played hard but those kinds of mistakes, unfortunately, are costing us games right now.
On the team’s belief in itself on the bench
Overall, even the last few weeks, the believe has actually been really good. The only games I really didn’t like were against Colorado, but other than that, our belief system was there and the guys were pretty good on the bench. Yes, they’re frustrated, but they’ve been pretty good. Again, we’ve got to work out way out of it and sometimes we need those bounces. Right now we’re just finding ways to lose, but things will chance and as long as you work hard and stay the course, and hopefully guys will come back healthy, things will turn around quickly.
On Cole Krygier playing forward and being paired with Hodgson
He was good. He was the only defenseman we found out that played forward before and I thought he was good. He gave us some good minutes and also a couple of chances, so it was fine. [Hodgson] was very sick over the break and lost eight pounds, and yesterday was his first practice. He kept his shifts short and scored a big goal for us. Again, I think we have to regroup now. We have six days to try to get better every day and it starts tomorrow.
On Kevin Connauton’s six-game assist streak
He’s getting shots through. We’re always barking at the defensemen for not getting shots through and having way too many shots blocked, especially against a team like Henderson. They’re very good at it. But he’s a veteran. He knows how to position himself and that’s why he’s getting those points, just by getting pucks through. That’s pretty much it.
On the team’s effort tonight
Obviously its tough to play a little shorthanded, but that’s not an excuse to go out there and not play hard. I thought we did that for at least 45 minutes of the game, but that’s too bad.
On having a goal disallowed but scoring again later in the period
I think the referee made the right call on the first one. Obviously it sucks, but it was a trip, but I think the puck doesn’t lie. I was fortunate to get a second one. I didn’t hear a whistle so that’s why I shot it, but that’s [the referees’] discretion.
On the team’s current skid
It’s a long season. I think we’ve just got to keep our nose to the grindstone here and get out of this little funk. I thought we came out pretty good. I thought we played simple and I think we managed the game. I think that’s what we have to do a better job it. We obviously kept the lead sometimes but we’ve got to manage it. I think we managed the game pretty well for the first 40 minutes and I think a little sickness and shorthandedness showed at the end.
Ontario heads back on the road with a trip to Tucson next weekend to face the Roadrunners on consecutive days beginning Friday night at 6 p.m. PT