ONTARIO, Cal. — When it was finally determined that the Stars and Reign would be meeting in the first round of the playoffs, the stats said it would be a close series. Two games in Texas reinforced this fact with nearly identical stats between the teams and one match that went to overtime.
The 5-1 loss on Friday evening had the Stars starting Landon Bow in net instead of Mike McKenna who had started the first two games. Cal Petersen was holding down the fort on the Reign’s end of the ice again after posting a solid night of his own.
The Stars once again started strong while the Reign took a little bit to find their skates. Once they had, the game became even trading of chances and saves. It was at 8:30 in the first that Matt Roy sent a point shot past Landon Bow to put the Reign up 1-0. Under three minutes later, Sean Walker sent a shot from almost the same place that also went past Bow to make it 2-0. The Stars responded well, tilting the ice back away from their net and forcing the Reign to ice the puck. Remi Elie found himself alone in the slot off of the ensuing face off and sent the puck past Petersen to cut the Reign to 2-1. The teams would trade shots and penalties through the rest of the period, but no other goals were posted.
The second period opened with a quick penalty against the Stars and an even faster goal just 11 seconds into the power play. Five minutes later, the Reign took a penalty of their own, and the Stars posted goal number two 20 seconds into the man advantage. Two minutes further in, a point shot from Colin Markison went into the net to tie the game at three each. Another two minutes later, Mike Amadio found himself in a 2-on-1, held the puck until the sprawling defender slid by, the shot it past Bow’s shoulder. That goal ended Landon Bow’s night and McKenna took over netminding duties.
The 4-3 lead held until 3:32 in the third period when Travis Morin once again tied the game. That goal stood for 55 minutes, through the first overtime and most of the second.
Texas started overtime in full control of the game, keeping the Reign on the defensive for a good five minutes of gameplay. After that, however, the Reign took over, sending shot after shot at McKenna. Ontario wasn’t getting any bounces, though, and couldn’t close the game out.
The second overtime period was an equal affair with mistakes from tired players made on both sides. 17 minutes in, with the game looking like a third overtime period was inevitable, the Reign got a breakaway. The shot was missed, and Samuel Laberge sprung the other direction. Laberge didn’t miss his shot, and it sailed over Petersen’s shoulder to win the game.
The Good: The Reign looked unbeatable for significant stretches in overtime, completely dominating the Stars. The Stars continued their tradition of not giving up, and this time it paid off. They tied the game twice and held against the Reign attack to finally win it.
The Bad: The Reign surrendered two leads and couldn’t close the game out in overtime despite a ton of quality chances. The Stars put Bow in net in what seemed like a knee-jerk response to Friday’s game. Bow looked very beatable for the 30 minutes he was in net.
The Ugly: Cal Petersen looked good to start the game, but then slowly fell off as the Stars found ways to beat him cleanly. For ten solid minutes in the first overtime, the Stars had no answer for the Reign who had their way on the ice. Only the spectacular saves from McKenna and some good puck luck kept them in the game.
The two teams will meet Tuesday night for the first elimination game of the series. Ontario will need Petersen to have the same type of game he had on Friday night to stay in the playoffs.