Reign R1, G1 FINAL – Reign 5, Condors 1 – Sturm, Portillo

Four second period goals powered the Ontario Reign (1-0) past the Bakersfield Condors (0-1) Wednesday night in the opening game of the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs at Toyota Arena, taking a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-3 series.

Tyler Madden scored twice in the contest, while Akil Thomas added a goal and an assist and goaltender Erik Portillo stopped 30 shots in his AHL playoff debut to earn the victory.


After a scoreless first period which included successful penalty kills for both sides, Ontario began the second frame with another kill to a minor infraction on Joe Hicketts for slashing.

Andre Lee gave the Reign an initial 1-0 lead with a goal off the rush at 5:43 of the second. Brandt Clarke started the play by clearing the puck out of Ontario’s zone, rimming it along the wall to Taylor Ward, who brought it into the offensive zone. Ward then found Lee for a quick wrist shot that found its way to the top right corner of the net over the glove of Bakersfield netminder Jack Campbell.

Madden extended the advantage to 2-0 less than two minutes later with a power play goal off a turnover in the Condors’ end at 7:24. The strike came off a feed from Samuel Fagemo during a penalty to Lane Pederson for interference.

Later in the period at 11:57, Ontario was beginning a 4-on-3 penalty kill in their own zone that quickly turned into a shorthanded 2-on-1. Thomas won the faceoff in his own end and the puck got pushed forward, putting he and Joe Hicketts on a rush into the Bakersfield end. Hicketts was in position for a one-timer and blasted the puck up high over Campbell to make it 3-0 Reign.

Thomas made it 4-0 late in the period, scoring a power play goal off a feed from TJ Tynan at 18:17. Charles Hudon also recorded a second assist on the play.

Pederson got Bakersfield on the board with the Condors’ lone goal of the night on the power play at 10:14 of the third.

But Madden was there for a quick response less than three minutes later, scoring his second of the night two seconds after an Ontario power play chance came to an end. Alex Turcotte helped make the play, winning a race to the puck deep in the Bakersfield end after splitting through a pair of defenders. He eventually found Madden on the doorstep for a tap-in to an open goal at 13:33 of the final frame.

The Reign outshot Bakersfield by a 35-31 margin in the contest and went 2-for-7 on the man-advantage while holding the Condors to a 1-for-5 night on the power play. Campbell stopped 29 shots in a losing effort for Bakersfield.

Marco Sturm
On Erik Portillo’s strong effort in goal
He got the game puck today because he kept us in it early in the game. They had that power play and all the chances, but they had nothing five-on-five in the first period, but they have a dangerous power play and he kept us in the game.

On including all the big forwards in the lineup
It was a tough call, but my gut was saying that I wanted to go heavy. It’s obviously disappointing for a guy like Chromiak or Pinelli because these guys played unbelievable all year long, but I have a good feeling that they will be very important in these playoffs. I don’t know when, but again, this was my gut for game one and I think it paid off.

On slowing down Bakersfield
[Bakersfield] has one of the best transition games in the league. They’re always dangerous so we prepared for that, and yes, we did a lot more digging into them just like everyone else in the playoffs. I give my coaching staff a lot of credit. Again, it paid off but its only one game. We’re going to take that, we’re going to look at some video and prepare again for Game 2.

On the special teams play
It was good. I was not worried, but because of their power play and the skill they have on that unit, you just never know and they give us a hard time all season long. The guys did great today. It started with our goalie and down through the defense and the forwards. We looked like a unit out there. They’ve been fun to watch all season long and that didn’t stop today.

On Tyler Madden’s two-goal performance
He plays with a lot of emotions and there was a reason I kind of rested him in Colorado. He’s been really good down the stretch. Tyler Madden is really good when he’s well-rested and ready to go, and it paid off today. A lot of guys contribute to that success today and he was one of them.

On carrying the momentum over to Saturday
There’s always room to grow but it was definitely a good start. The tough part, especially in the playoffs, is if you can do it again. We want the same commitment and we want the same consistency for 60 minutes, and then I will be happy.


Erik Portillo
On earning the win in his first professional playoff game
I think for myself, I had a good background with playing a lot of playoff games in college, and a lot of just one game on the line scenarios. I felt prepared for this and I think the team helped me out as well. We felt very comfortable going into this game and I think now its just pushing.

On killing off an early penalty
You have to be prepared from the start. They are an offensive team that can score goals. Being able to come up with a few saves there in the beginning is obviously nice for myself and also to help the team get comfortable and get going.

On trying to go on a run with this team
It’s awesome. This is a fantastic group. It’s my first year, and we have a very close group and a great team. Everyone really pushes for this. We’ve been working hard all season to get here so now it’s time to really put in the next level and keep going for the win here.

The series now shifts to Bakersfield for Game 2 on Saturday night, which begins at 7 p.m. inside Mechanics Bank Arena.

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