Up until tonight, there was truly no way of gauging just how gratified, elated, and raucous Ontario’s home fans could get for the Reign this season.
Their team had won it’s first game in regulation in 2018-19, relieving themselves of a weighty six-game losing streak. Their starting goalie – Cal Petersen, helped the team post its first under-four goal game in spectacular fashion. And reassigned LA Kings forward – Mike Amadio, returned to Ontario with an offensive vigor that manifested itself in three assists on the night.
Ontario needed a win tonight – and they took home ice looking and feeling like a confident team that did.
Not uncharacteristically, Ontario allowed the opposing team to score a quick goal to begin the game.
Texas left winger – Adam Mascherin, was gifted a golden opportunity nearly a minute and a half after the game had commenced when Ontario forward – Sheldon Rempal, attempted to lob a puck that ricocheted off a nearby Texas winger and dropped in front of Mascherin in a lethal area. Mashcerin sent a powerful wrister in on goal eight to ten feet in front of the blue paint that Petersen was unable to fully get a hold of and the shot dribbled in behind the unflinching goaltender who thought he had control of the puck somewhere in the many layers of protection he was wearing.
Moments later, however, Ontario would return to score an emphatic game-tying effort. Ontario defenseman- Chaz Reddekopp, gained a few seconds of free space streaking in behind the aforementioned Amadio, who gave a soft backhanded loft to his defensive cohort ahead as he headed took a hard line to the back of the boards from right circle. Speeding forward with the puck glued to his stick, Reddekopp blindly spun off his defender and delivered a laser-like slap pass to Reign forward – Matt Luff who slotted a quick one-timer in past Star’s goal keeper – Landon Bow, just ahead of the left face off circle. The game was tied at one a piece.
Rempal would then go on to exact his revenge for the first goal by taking advantage of a poor pass from Texas defenseman – Dillon Heatherington. Heatherington coughed up a puck from behind the net that found the end of Rempal’s stick which, if not for the carom-back towards Rempal after his initially egregious miss, may never had gone in to begin with.
Reddekopp opened Ontario’s infraction floodgates by tripping Texas winger – Roope Hintz, who was called for embellishment on the play. With both players sitting in the box, neither side was able to generate a goal.
Six-foot-one Stars’ defenseman Benjamin Gleason, toe-dragged past a sprawling Rempal who idly looked up from his position on hand and knee as the defenders forward momentum allowed a strong wrist shot to wiggle through net front traffic for the equalizing goal.
Moments later, however, Ontario blueliner – Alex Lintuniemi would get called for a holding minor, halting a Texas forwards quick progress in on goal, with just under two minutes remaining in the first.
The penalty Lintuniemi created resulted in an opportunity for Stars winger – Colton Hargrove, to receive a point pass which turned into a goal as Petersen jolted quickly to the opposite corner of the net that Hargrove scored on.
The Reign trailed 3-2 by the end of the first and a particularly familiar and unsettling feeling fell over the crowd and spilled into the locker room. Ontario seemed destined for defeat after having lost its first lead since playing at home against Milwaukee over two weeks ago.
The Reign marched resiliently into the beginning of the following period, scoring rapidly at the 13 second mark.
Amadio dispossessed Hintz from behind his net and circled around to exact an easy to handle pass for veteran Ontario forward – Matt Moulson, who relished the opportunity to be alone on an island in front of the net and buried a one-timer high glove side.
Petersen was undisputedly the hero of the remainder of the period. Pushing aside 11 shots in the entirety of the second and fending off a slew of quality chances through 9 minutes and 21 seconds of consecutive Ontario infractions. Teammate, Mike Amadio, heralded Petersen’s performance on the night as a head-standing occasion after the game, but most certainly had thought that was the case as Ontario and Texas headed into the lockers tied 3-3.
A trip along the back boards in Texas territory to Reign forward – Sam Herr, gave Ontario its final power play chance of the night.
The pressure was immense as the first power play unit hampered Texas in their own zone, shot after shot.
In the dying embers of the man advantage, none other than Rempal was left at the top of the crease after a puck had found its way onto his stick from a deflected pass.
Rempal whipped a nifty wrister past Bow which caused Citizen’s Business Bank Arena to erupt into cheers that matched the enthusiasm after Luff’s empty-net-goal moments after.
The game came to a satisfying conclusion as the score board, for the first time this season, favored the home team by a score line of 5-3.
Crowds mimicked Ontario’s starting skaters as raised arms hung in solidarity with elevated sticks – the first stick salute of the season was well underway as the Reign lifted their carbon fiber creations skyward, as if to ward off any previous feelings of insignificance or failure.
The Reign had finally won at home in regulation time and all seemed right for once this season, they enjoyed the night mindful of the responsibility to expand on the home win this coming Saturday as they mentally prepared for a face off against pacific division rivals, the San Diego Gulls.