ONTARIO, Calif. – Having climbed their way back into a playoff spot from two wins over Central Division opponents, the Ontario Reign were looking to solidify their position with a divisional win over the San Jose Barracuda.
The Barracuda just had their four-game win streak snapped by the Bakersfield Condors, and as a result, were on the outside-looking-in at the postseason picture.
The Reign & Barracuda teams met in an odd affair Sunday that included three tying goals, four power-play goals, a short-handed goal, two goal reviews, three rare penalties and a download of the AHL rule book to understand one of those penalties.
Philippe Maillet opened the scoring for the Reign for the second night in a row four minutes into the game. The lead would hold until late in the first when Jonny Brodzinski broke his nine-game scoring drought to put the Reign up 2-0.
The second period is when the game really began to get interesting. Brodzinski got his stick up too high, giving the Barracuda a power play. It only took Alexander True ten seconds of power-play time to cut the Reign’s lead in half.
Six minutes later, Julius Bergeman threaded the puck through traffic to tie the game at two. It was then the Barracuda took their turns in the sin bin, starting with a slashing from Adam Helewka and followed with an ill-advised boarding by Brandon Mashinter, which gave the Reign an extended 5-on-3 power-play. Brodzinski picked up his second of the night just after the 5-on-3 ended, putting the Reign up 3-2.
With just 1:11 left in the period, the Reign were assessed their second faceoff violation penalty of the night, and Jacob Middleton took the opportunity to tie the game.
The teams continued to trade penalties, setting up a Reign power play midway through the third period. Ontario let the puck slip past them, setting up a 3-on-1 short-handed rush for the Barracuda. Nick DeSimone out-waited Scott Wedgewood to put the Barracuda up 4-3.
Ontario got the opportunity for redemption six minutes later when Antoine Bibeau played the puck outside of the trapezoid. Austin Wagner, set up in front of Bibeau, refused to give up on a bouncing puck and eventually got it over the goal line to tie the game at four.
The teams would need extra time to determine a victor, but Brett Sutter was up to the challenge, slipping the puck between Bibeau’s pads to get the win.
The Good: Brodzinski finally looked like the “JonnyB” Reign fans are used to seeing, notching two goals and working his way back up the depth chart. Both Wagner and Maillet extended their goal streaks and T.J. Hensick picked up two assists of his own.
The Bad: The Reign put themselves in penalty trouble again, giving the Barracuda a shot to get back in the game. While the two faceoff violation calls could be considered overly strict interpretations of the rules, the Reign have to be able to adapt to the officiating style.
The Ugly: Both San Jose and Ontario went 3 for 5 on the penalty kill, but both of the Reign’s goals against came only seconds into the power play. For both goals, they seemed unprepared to kill off the penalty.
The Results: The Reign are now in second place, 0.007 percentage points above the San Diego Gulls. The Barracuda drop down to seventh place, 0.011 percentage points below the San Antonio Rampage.
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