2/24 REIGN FINAL – Reign 3, Gulls 2 – Sturm, Portillo, Hudon

The Ontario Reign (25-19-3-3) held off a third period charge and secured their second win in as many days on Saturday, defeating the San Diego Gulls (18-21-8-0) by a 3-2 score at Pechanga Arena.

Erik Portillo made 31 saves in net to secure the victory and improve to 14-8-3 in 26 appearances during his rookie season, while Samuel Fagemo, Martin Chromiak and Charles Hudon each scored goals and both Joe Hicketts and TJ Tynan earned a pair of assists.


Ontario took the early lead on a power play goal by Fagemo that was scored at 8:37 off a one-timer setup by Hicketts. Tynan also factored into the scoring with the second assist on the opening goal of the game that made it 1-0. Fagemo’s goal gave him 25 for the season, which includes a league-leading 12 man-advantage strikes.

Martin Chromiak made it a 2-0 game with his 12th goal of the season at 8:16 of the second on a play that also came with assists from Tynan and Hicketts.

Less than a minute after Chromiak’s tally, Akil Thomas was awarded a penalty shot opportunity after absorbing contact during a breakaway chance in the Gulls’ end. But he was unable to convert as his deke to the forehand was shut down by San Diego netminder Calle Clang.

The Reign carried their two-goal advantage into the third and extended it just 37 seconds into the final frame when Hudon netted his 17th of the season unassisted after stealing the puck in the neutral zone and beating Clang with a wrist shot on a 2-on-1 rush back into the offensive end.

San Diego had a quick response after Hudon’s tally, however, as Olen Zellweger got the Gulls on the board 23 seconds later to make it 3-1.

Then Chase De Leo scored on the power play at 3:07 to cut the lead down to a single goal at 3-2.

But Ontario, with the help of Portillo, didn’t allow the Gulls an equalizer and held on for the victory by outshooting San Diego 10-8 in the third period.

Both teams ended with 33 shots on goal in the contest and a single power play goal with the Reign finishing 1-for-4 on the man-advantage while holding the Gulls to a 1-for-5 mark. Clang turned out 30 shots for San Diego in a losing effort.

Postgame thoughts from Reign head coach Marco Sturm as well as Portillo and Hudon are below.

Marco Sturm
On holding on in the third period to secure the win
It took us a little bit in the third but stuff like that shouldn’t happen. We had a great start. We were up 3-0 and we didn’t play the right way [in the third] and that’s unfortunate. We took an unnecessary penalty too and then all of the sudden the game is on just like that. At the end of the day, we’ll take the points and hopefully we’re going to learn from that. I think everyone was just a little frustrated with the way the third period went and it hit us pretty good. I thought the last eight minutes were a little bit better, but we put ourselves in that situation. It was more in the head than anything else.

On Erik Portillo’s performance in net
He was great. He was outstanding. He kept a zero on the scoresheet for a long time. That’s why I’m a little mad too. We made the mistakes and he kept us in it. We made them, and he gave up two goals. It was not his fault. Sometimes its not fair, but he played really great today.

On earning wins in both games this weekend
The last few games we’ve kept the opponent to less than two goals. That means you’re giving yourself a chance to win a hockey game every night if you play like that and if you’re committed to playing defense. Look at the game today. It was two goals. Those two goals against gave us a chance to win the hockey game. That’s a little bit of the mindset we’ve got to have, especially when we’re in a slump. You’ve got to play better defense and I think that’s been the key for our success lately.

Erik Portillo
On tonight’s win
We’ve all wanted this turned around and to get two in a row, and we’ve wanted it really badly. It felt good. We came out ready and personally, I just tried to do my job and stick to my plan and it worked out well tonight. Seeing shots is always a good thing early in the game, so it helps to feel the puck and get involved early.

On watching Samuel Fagemo’s success first-hand
He’s a goal-scorer and that’s what he does. He scores when the team needs him to score. To have a guy like that on your team and also having him as my best friend is awesome. I’m so happy for him and happy to see his success.

On working in a goalie tandem with Aaron Dell
I think every day we can see his calmness in every situation. That’s what I’m taking with me. I sit beside him in the locker room as well. It doesn’t really matter what happens on the ice. He’s always calm and collected and that’s something I really look at and take with me. At the pro level and at the NHL level, even looking at [David] Rittich, these guys don’t get rattled because it’s going poorly. They stick to their plan and that’s what I’m, as a young guy, taking with me.


Charles Hudon


Ontario returns home on Tuesday night to face the San Jose Barracuda at 7 p.m. inside Toyota Arena.

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