Joel Lowry recorded his first professional goal and Sean Backman scored the game-winning goal in overtime as the Ontario Reign (16-4-2-1) edged the Bakersfield Condors (11-11-2-1), 2-1, in front of a crowd of 7,810 Sunday at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
“I had a lot of chances tonight,” said Backman. “Last night we didn’t have any shots in overtime and Coach Stothers made an emphasis on getting the puck on the net. We were down pretty much the whole game and killing penalties takes a lot out of the team, but sometimes, you can feed off your kill and if your kill is doing well you can feed off that energy.”
The Reign fell into penalty trouble in the first period, but killed all four power plays given to the Condors.
After a scoreless first frame, their penalty troubles continued in the middle period and Bakersfield eventually found the back of the net at 11:22 on a goal from forward Matthew Ford. Defenseman Brad Hunt and forward Andrew Miller were credited with the assists.
The Condors poured the pressure on and forced Reign netminder Peter Budaj to turn away 11 shots. At the other end of the ice, netminder Ben Scrivens made 10 stops. The two-period shot total was tied at 15 apiece.
The third stanza was much different as Ontario picked up momentum and tied the game at 5:20 on a goal from Lowry. Forward Nick Ebert carried it down the right circle and fed the puck to Lowry who tucked it past Scrivens for the equalizer. Defenseman Jeff Schultz was given the secondary assist.
In the same frame, the Reign pressured hard and forced Scrivens to make consecutive saves to keep them off the scoreboard. Ontario outshot Bakersfield, 10-5 as time expired, sending the game into overtime.
Then, just 21 seconds into overtime, Backman scored the game-winner, launching a shot into the net to extend his point total to a team-high 20 points (6-14=20).
“It was a good defensive play by Vinnie down there in our own zone. He was skating up the ice and shoveled up the pass to me and I just let it go off the wind,” said Backman.
“We just said we have 20 minutes. 20 minutes left and then we have Christmas break so let’s just leave it out there and see what happens.”
Ontario went 0-for-5 on the power play while Bakersfield was 1-for-11.
Budaj recorded his 15th win of the season stopping 19 of 20 shots. Scrivens made 24 saves.