Shaking heads of disapproval and murmurs of malcontent ravaged Citizens Business Bank Arena on Wednesday night as Milwaukee right winger – Nicholas Baptiste, placed a crowd-crippling wrist shot above Ontario goalie – Cal Petersen’s shoulder from the left circle in overtime. The 5-4 loss to Milwaukee (AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators) ushered in Ontario’s fourth consecutive game to go past regulation and their third successive loss in overtime at home.
Milwaukee opened the scoring in Ontario, coincidentally, with the skater who would eventually end it; 23-year old, Canadian-born, right-hander – Nicholas Baptiste, scored with a minute left on a first period power play opportunity as his low driven shot from the right boards found daylight underneath Petersen’s slightly skewed leg pad.
Minutes later, Ontario forward – Mikey Eyssimont, drew a penalty along the boards in Admiral territory, which gave 21-year old Ontario forward – Matt Luff, a chance to score the only Ontario power play goal on the night.
The Reign would then go on to score on a play that began with forward – Kyle Baumann, gaining the zone in step with his linesman and placing a pinpoint pass to streaking Ontario defender – Sean Walker, who stick handled and slotted the puck past Admiral’s goaltender – Troy Grosenick, from the top of the crease.
(Score line at the end of the 1st – ONT 2 – MIL 1).
A quarrel that took place as the first came to a close led the following period to begin with a man in the box for either team. Two minutes into play, second-year Reign forward– Phillipe Maillet, drew a tripping minor, which gave the Reign a squandered 4-on-3 opportunity as Milwaukee bore down and dug out numerous Ontario attempts to score with the upper hand.
After cycling the puck in Ontario’s zone, Milwaukee defensemen – Brian Cooper, received an advantageous pass that gave him an open shooting lane near the blue line, from which he threw a hard-to-handle wrist shot on net that Admiral’s left winger – Anthony Richard, recovered in front of the goal and backhanded past Petersen. The equalizing goal must have created a spark within an Ontario team who was hungry for a win at the end of three periods.
Shortly after the game-tying goal, Ontario defender – Kurtis MacDermid, got into a formal hockey tussle with Milwaukee centerman – Jeremy Gregoire. Fans from Ontario leapt to their feet as 6-foot-5 MacDermid threw a succession of vicious haymakers that forced the significantly smaller, Gregoire, to pull MacDermid down as he dropped towards the ice. Amidst the chaos, MacDermid was cited a roughing penalty that Reign forward – Brad Morrison served on his behalf.
Perhaps, Ontario was out of sync as teammates MacDermid and Morrison became onlookers in the penalty box, or maybe it was the wealth of time and space given to Milwaukee defender – Matt Donovan, at the blue line who took several seconds to determine where he would place a rifled slap shot past Petersen. in either case, Milwaukee reclaimed the lead as the second period drew to a halt.
(Score line at the end of the 2nd – ONT 2 – MIL 3).
With the shrill of a buzzing goal horn at Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario shifted their attention towards the beginning of what would, again, be an indecisive period for the Reign. With nearly two minutes into the third period, veteran Reign forward – Matt Moulson, found the back of the net on a one-time attempt from Morrison’s net front pass.
As momentum was on the rise for Ontario, a delay of game penalty and a tripping minor gave the Reign a minute of overlap for a 5-on-3 power play. Despite not having left the offensive zone for a vast majority of the 5-on-3 power play, Ontario could not string together a goal for the go ahead. Several minutes later, a quick handed rebound from forward – Mikey Eyssimont, Ontario went back on the board to capture a late lead in the third. Eyssimont’s go ahead goal would not be the deciding factor in regular time as fans, skaters, and staff thought it would.
Admirals left winger and cousin of Ontario’s own defenseman, Daniel Brickley, – Connor Brickely, took advantage of a breakaway late in the third, scoring with ease at the opposite end of the ice.
(Score line at the end of the 3rd – ONT 4 – MIL 4).
In overtime, Ontario was given yet another opportunity to seize the score line with a minute of man advantage, but Sutter, Walker, Luff, and Moulson were, yet again, unable to score as time expired on the power play. Moments later and Ontario was hanging its head as fans flooded the streets in woeful indignation, courtesy of Baptiste’s nail-in-the-coffin wrist shop.
Ontario had its worst power play performance of the season on a night that desperately could have used a Matt Moulson, man advantage, backdoor slot, or a crisp Kale Clague one-time power play rifle. For the past four games, Ontario has been nothing shy of consistent, with its power play operating at 25% in three of its last four games (and 20% for that auxiliary game).
Tonight, the Reign went one for six on the power play (16.7%) and given that some of these fruitless attempts featured only three opposing skaters on the ice, Ontario can only hope that this game’s power play is simply an outlier in the long haul. Having said that, with the recall of premier producer, team leader in PPA (power play assists), and Reign forward – Sheldon Remapl, to the Los Angeles Kings, is it any wonder that Ontario struggled to generate chances on the man advantage tonight?
Post-game Interview and Thoughts Going into away Stint
Matt Moulson, despite having a goal and an assist on the night, was noticeably frustrated at the recent overtime loss as he expressed his thoughts on the road trip ahead and his recently recalled teammate’s opportunity to play in the big leagues.
Although Moulson heralded the next two fixtures in Colorado as, “need to win,” games, the outset of generating a pair of favorable outcomes away from home against the Eagles will prove to be even more difficult with Rempal out of the foreseeable lineup. Skaters like Ontario winger – Emerson Etem, forward – Jamie Devane, forward – Boko Imama, veteran winger – Sam Herr, and first year pro centerman – Drake Rymsha, need to be able to slot into different lines and generate points to take pressure off the main scorers and help begin to fill the void that Rempal is leaving behind.
The fact that, of these five players, one has recorded a point (Imama on an assist from tonight) and two have played every game, thus far, with nothing to show (Etem and Herr) seems ludicrous. In order to survive in the long run and the short run, this team will first need to figure out how to get over a seemingly perpetual overtime slump, and that may be a tall order considering Ontario lost arguably one of their best players to an NHL call up.
Friday night at 6:05 p.m., Ontario begins its two-game stint in the Rockies as series will provided tenacity and willingness of this club in the absence of key players.