The San Diego Gulls have fostered an intense rivalry with the Ontario Reign ever since the second period of their very first game during last year’s preseason. The two teams and their fan bases have developed a deep-seeded hatred of each other, bolstered by a suspension-worthy hit from Kurtis MacDermid and meeting in the second round of the playoffs.
The two met up again on a rainy Sunday afternoon while the rest of the southland tried to float away. The Gulls and their contingent of dedicated fans came out ready to play.
Whether thrown off by the 3pm start time, confused as to why it was raining in Southern California, or still recovering from celebrating their victory the night before, the Reign barely showed up for the first period.
Embracing a policy of bend and hope your goaltender doesn’t break, the Reign let the Gulls control the majority of play, allowing 14 shots on Campbell while waiting until mid-way through the period to register their first shot. The four penalties called against Ontario (one offset by a matching roughing penalty to the Gulls) handed San Diego all of the momentum they could want. It still took 17 minutes for the Gulls to solve Campbell. Upset that a borderline hit had not been called, the Reign left Zac Larraza alone in front of their net. Larraza lifted the puck over Campbell’s shoulder to put the Gulls up 1-0. The lead was short-lived, however, as Jonny Brodzinski took advantage of a brief spout of Reign offense to even the game two minutes later.
What was said in the locker room between periods is unknown, but the Reign were vastly improved in the second period. They managed to stay out of the box and were rewarded with large swaths of control in the offensive zone. During one of these shifts, new guy Cameron Schilling helped to get the puck over to Sam Herr who set up Patrick Bjorkstrand waiting in the high slot. Bjorkstrand sent the puck past Boyle to give the Reign a one goal lead.
The score held until the Gulls pulled Boyle for the extra attacker. Just seconds after Boyle had left the ice, Corey Tropp tied the game to send it to overtime.
While both teams came up with odd-man rushes and quality scoring chances in a lively overtime, a shootout was needed. In the shootout, Jonny Brodzinski was the only player to score, winning the game for Ontario.
Impressive: Despite being largely hung out to dry in the first period, Jack Campbell kept his team in the game until they could assemble themselves and push back. He was rock solid in overtime and the shootout, saving the game for the Reign quite a few times. Jonny Brodzinski has recaptured his magic after a brief dry spell, scoring four goals in the past four games.
Not So Much: While most fans assume that the officials have something against their team, there were quite a few questionable hits that were left uncalled in the game. A couple of these threatened to throw the Reign off their game, but the coaching staff & leadership managed to keep the team together.
Elsewhere in the Division: San Antonio and Rockford battled each other to overtime where Grimaldi won it for the Rampage with just 15 seconds left. The rest of the division had the night off.
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