Reign Score Four Unanswered Third-Period Goals To Shock GullsMay 5, 2021
The Ontario Reign stunned the San Diego Gulls with four unanswered goals in the third period to grab a 6-4 win tonight at Toyota Sports Performance Center. Despite the setback, the Gulls have picked up standings points in 15 of their last 20 games (14-5-1-0).
"I think we just got away from our structure a little bit and kind of got into a track meet with them," Matt Lorito said. "They got some skill and can make plays off the rush. We just got burned on that 2-on-1 and just gave them a little too much ice coming through the neutral zone and it cost us."
Mikey Eyssimont led the charge, scoring three goals in 6:39 in the final frame to record his first career American Hockey League hat trick. The left wing led all skaters with four points (3-1=4). Rookie Nick Halloran recorded career-high three points (0-3=3), and both Adam Johnson and Akil Thomas recorded two-point games (1-1=2) to help Ontario earn just their second win against the Gulls in the 10-game season series.
Andrew Poturalski and Jacob Perreault each finished with two-assist performances in the loss. Rookie netminder Lukas Dostal saw his eight-game win streak end as he allowed five goals on 24 shots.
Rasmus Kupari opened the scoring at 4:38 of the first period, converting on a rebound at the side of the crease for his seventh goal of the season.
Alex Dostie started the play, leading the rush over the Reign blue line before dishing the puck to Lorito. The veteran found Jacob Perreault with a cross-ice pass, but the rookie failed to put the shot on net. He alertly followed up his rebound, moving the puck from behind the net to Lorito near the side of the net.
The veteran converted on the sharp-angle chance, quickly wristing a shot past Berube to tie the game. It's his first goal since April 9 at the Tucson Roadrunners.
Greg Printz picked up his first career AHL goal to give San Diego its first lead of the game with 3:50 remaining in the opening frame. Andrew Poturalski blocked a clearing attempt entering the Ontario zone, circled behind the net and slid a pass to Printz who put home the backdoor opportunity.
"It was a good start," Lorito said. "It’s an opportunity for guys to step up – guys are getting to play more than they normally do, getting more opportunity with some guys. I think we responded well, we just weren’t able to finish the job."
The Gulls weren’t able to capitalize on the power-play chance that carried over from the first period, but they used the offensive momentum and sustained pressure to score shortly after the man advantage ended.
Hunter Drew carried the puck to the faceoff circle a fired a wrist shot past Ontario netminder J-F Berube 1:57 into the middle frame for his sixth of the season.
The defenseman-turned-forward collected a missed shot from Bryce Kindopp, curling away from the side boards and charging toward the high slot. His wrist shot beat Berube glove side for his second goal in the last three days.
Kindopp extended his assist and point streaks (2-3=5) to three games. Alex Limoges, who collected the secondary assist, stretched his point streak to four games (4-2=6).
Akil Thomas brought the Reign within one, sending a shot past the glove of Lukas Dostal from the left of the slot 1:55 after Drew’s goal.
San Diego converted on its second power-play chance of the game, with Chase De Leo extending giving the Gulls a 4-2 lead at 10:59 of the middle frame.
With Eyssimont in the box for tripping, Poturalski carried the puck into the high slot with speed. He found Perreault to his left, and the rookie forward uncorked a one-timed shot. Ontario defenseman Mark Alt blocked the bid, but the puck trickled through him and to a wide-open De Leo in front of the crease.
The veteran forward had no problem slamming the puck past Berube for his 13th goal of the season and sixth against the Reign.
Poturalski and Perreault each picked up their second assists of the night on the power-play goal. Poturalski recorded his league-leading eighth multi-assist game of the season, and finished the game leading the AHL in assists and points (8-28=36). Perreault earned three assists (0-3=3) over his last three games.
The bad blood boiled over shortly after the goal, with two fights breaking out over the final nine minutes of the period. Keegan Kanzig and Boko Imama started the first scrap, with the heavyweights squaring off for an even bout. Jeremy Roy and Eyssimont followed, with the Gulls defenseman delivering a series of quick strikes to gain the upper hand on Ontario's left wing.
"I thought we play two great periods," assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre explained. "We were up and down, and shooting was really good. In the third period, a couple of bad decisions and a goal from the outside and a lost battle behind the net. Ontario came up ready to play in the third period. Maybe the fights in the third period gave them a bit of life. I thought we missed a bunch of chances when the score was 4-2 and if we can get that next goal, maybe the game is different. You have to give them credit, they battled until the end and we made a few mistakes that were costly, but overall, I thought we had a strong two periods."
Eyssimont turned the tide for the Reign, scoring three consecutive third-period goals for a natural hat trick. His third - off a 2-on-1 rush with rookie forward Nick Halloran - gave the Reign a 5-4 lead, their first since the opening minutes of the game.
San Diego's comeback effort hit a rough patch, as consecutive penalties allowed Ontario to control play late. Eventually the Gulls pulled Dostal for the extra attacker, but Ontario's Adam Johnson scored on the empty net with 45 seconds left to seal the game.
The two teams will meet at FivePoint Arena on Friday, May 7 to close the 10-game season series. Puck drop is 7 p.m. PT on AHL TV and the Gulls Audio Network.