By Thomas Harrington
Two games into their first round series with Ontario and both teams have picked up a win on the road. It’s been two close games, with each one being decided by a single goal. A combination of big saves and timely goals have led to both victories.
San Diego hosted Ontario in game one, with the Reign getting the only goal of the first, as Jonny Brodzinski blasted the puck past Jhonas Enroth. Early in the second, T.J. Hensick put Ontario up 2-0. On both goals, the Gulls were caught standing around and turned the puck over at bad times. Shortly after that, Nick Sorensen was awarded a penalty shot, but it was easily handled by Jack Campbell. Despite the deficit and missed penalty shot, San Diego quickly responded, as Sam Carrick, one of Bob Murray’s deadline acquisitions, got the Gulls on the board a few minutes later. Andy Welinski and Spencer Abbott picked up the assists on the goal. 12:51 into the second, the Gulls took a bench minor for too many men on the ice. With Ontario looking to restore their two goal lead, the Gulls were the one to strike. Kalle Kossila forced a turnover at San Diego’s blueline and Nic Kerdiles went in and tied the game up. After that goal, it looked like San Diego had all the momentum going into the third. The third period was a back and forth affair, but the game remained tied late, and it looked like game one was headed to overtime. However, late in the third, the Gulls turned the puck over in the corner of their own zone, and Adrian Kempe quickly passed the puck to Brodzinski, who fired home his second goal of the game, with just 11.7 seconds left in regulation. Coming back from a 2-0 deficit was a great sign for San Diego, but they were their own worst enemy in this game. All three goals were scored off of misplays for the Gulls, and with overtime seemingly inevitable, the Gulls committed a grievous error to lose the game.
With game one in the books and the Gulls down in the series, San Diego traveled to Ontario to try and even up the series. After falling behind by two in game one, the Gulls were determined to have a better start in game two. Just over four minutes into the game, Sorensen got the scoring started. Abbott and Kerdiles picked up the assists on the first goal of the game. It was Sorensen’s first career playoff goal, but not his last. Just 31 seconds later, Sorensen scored his second goal of the game on a two on one rush, giving San Diego a 2-0 lead. Antoine Laganiere and Kossila picked up the assists on his second goal. San Diego held that lead going into the second, but just a few minutes into the middle frame, Ontario got on the board, as Mike Amadio struck for the Reign. Later in the period, Ontario almost tied it up, as Enroth turned the puck over while he was out of the net, but Kerdiles made a great play to keep the Gulls on top. The period ended 2-1, and Ontario came on strong in the third, as the pushed for the tying goal. However, Enroth was equal to the task, and didn’t let anything else by him, giving the Gulls a 2-1 victory and tying the series at one game apiece. After dropping the first game in such dramatic fashion, it was great seeing the Gulls respond with two early goals in game two. Enroth was solid in net and the team did a good job of limiting Ontario’s chances throughout. Anaheim’s 2016 first round pick Max Jones made his professional debut in this game, and had a shot on goal.
Game three will be this Friday, and the Gulls will be looking to take their first lead of the series on home ice. Game four will be on May 1st, and, if needed, game five will be on May 2nd. Through two games the Gulls have proven that they can beat the team who they lost to a year ago. The key for them through the rest of the series will be to not beat themselves, as they did in game one.
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April 25th, 2017