Nov. 3, 2017
Leland Irving tied a club record with 41 saves, but Phillipe Maillet’s 5-on-3 power play goal 8:02 into the contest held up as the Ontario Reign (3-6-0) posteda 1-0 victory on Friday night at Valley View Casino Center. A crowd of 10,591 left unrewarded as Ontario rookie goaltender Cal Petersen earned his first career AHL win and shutout with 27 saves.
“We wasted an unbelievable goaltending performance by Leland Irving,” said Gulls head coach Dallas Eakins. “Nights like tonight you should be feeling great after the game, when a goalie stands on his head. I just thought, especially our forwards, our forwards really let us down tonight.”
The Gulls (4-4-1) stumbled out of the gate against the Reign, who out-shot San Diego 14-3 in the game’s opening 20 minutes. Maillet’s goal came on a two-man advantage, with San Diego’s Sam Carrick and Deven Sideroff in the penalty box for minor penalties. Ontario winger Jonny Brodzinski held in a clearing attempt by the Gulls’ Brian Cooper, knocking down a loose puck in the slot. Brodzinski fed T.J. Hensick in the low left circle, whose perfect cross-ice pass to Maillet on a vacant right wing for his second goal of the season.
Irving would be tasked with holding off a Reign shooting gallery, as Ontario came within one shot of the San Diego club record for shots faced (43, five times; last: Dec. 11, 2016 at San Jose). The 2006 first round selection of the Calgary Flames responded with several acrobatic stops, doing the splits in the first period to deny a scramble goal. Irving was credited with top star on the night for his performance.
“It was pretty exciting to play in front of a great crowd tonight,” said Irving following his first home start. “There’s no frozen ponds outside, we’re pretty far south, and the fans really back this team. It’s incredible.”
San Diego’s best chances to equalize came with a pair of rebound attempts, both to the stick of Carrick, and both shot wide of the frame. Petersen made a scrambling stop late in the third to preserve the Ontario victory, and despite 1:46 of empty net sixth attacker pressure, the Gulls could not force one past the Reign rookie net-minder.
Eakins seeks a commitment to shorter shifts and a stronger work ethic from his 12 forwards on Saturday when these two teams conclude a home-and-home matchup.
“It’s shift length, turnovers, and we’re going to have to out-work that team,” added Eakins. “They’re bigger than us and they look a bit stronger than us. We’re going to need more will.”
After dropping their first six contests of the season in regulation, Ontario has won three straight games.
The Gulls and Reign face off again tomorrow evening at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario (6 p.m., ESPN 1700-AM).
1. Leland Irving (SD)
2. Cal Petersen (ONT)
3. Phillipe Maillet (ONT)