ONTARIO, CA – The Central Division has been a problem for the Ontario Reign this season. Their dismal start included a trip through the mid-west where they picked up only one win. It wasn’t until they began playing local opponents that they found any measure of success. Wednesday night’s loss to the IceHogs continued the problem.
The Chicago Wolves stopped by the Inland Empire for the third and last game of their Pacific road trip. The trip began with a 2-1 loss in San Diego Wednesday night, snapping a five-game win streak. They got back into the win column against Bakersfield on Friday night. The win brought their record to an impressive 13-4-2-1 in the last 20 games, good for only third in the Central Division.
The first period began with a defensive feeling out from both teams. There was only one shot recorded in the first 5 minutes of play and neither team seemed ready to take charge of the game. Then Brodzinski-Amadio-Moulson line kicked in, with Jonny Brodzinski stealing the puck for Matt Moulson in the offensive zone who kept it away from the Wolves and fed Mike Amadio for the goal. Four minutes later, Amadio and Moulson reversed the rolls with Amadio stealing the puck and feeding Moulson for the goal. Then it was up to Cal Peterson to keep the lead as the Wolves made a push to get back into the game. A couple of close calls had Peterson out of position, but Stepan Falkovsky was there to back him up and keep the Wolves off the board.
The second period saw Chicago control most of the momentum with breaks when Ontario’s top line was on the ice. Sixteen minutes into the period, a shot from Ivan Barbashev sent Peterson swimming again, this time without Falkovsky near, and Tomas Hyka put the puck into the gaping net. Just three minutes later, Ivan Barbashev tied the game with only 47 seconds left in the period.
Michael Mersch got the lead back for the Reign 1:17 into the third period with a shot that seemed to tumble over Kasimir Kaskisuo’s shoulder. A power play goal from Alex Lintuniemi five minutes later sealed the deal for the Reign. They held the Wolves off the board, keeping them from putting sustained pressure on Peterson for the rest of the period.
The Good: We can’t say enough about the line of Brodzinski-Amadio-Moulson. The line plays at a completely different level than most everyone else on the ice, causing turnovers, creating chances and spending most of their time on the attack.
The Bad: Ontario had a fade back in the second, letting the Wolves tie the game and being guilty of their sloppy play.
The Ugly: The penalty kill caused plenty of heart attacks, generating a few close calls that could have resulted in goals against.
The Result: The two wins vaulted Ontario back to sixth in the Pacific, but with only 0.106 percentage points separating first from last, one misstep could send them back to the bottom. With all of the teams in the division over 0.500 in points percentage, the stretch to the playoffs will be something to keep close track of.