Team captain Vincent LoVerde recorded a goal and two assists and Peter Budaj earned the shutout as the Ontario Reign (20-9-2-1) overpowered the San Diego Gulls (17-15-1-1) with a 5-0 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 9,491 on Friday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
Budaj turned away all 27 shots faced, and forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas scored twice to propel the Reign to their second win over the Gulls in the sixth of 12 meetings between the two rivals.
“At the end of the day we are just focusing on our game,” said LoVerde. “We came out with a good push and good effort. It was obviously good to get the win and it’s a good start to the weekend."
The Reign set the tone attacking the net early in the opening frame. They finally got on the board late in the period when Derek Army found the back of the net on the power play for a 1-0 lead. The goal marked Army’s first AHL tally of the season. Justin Auger and LoVerde were credited with the assists.
“We got it deep on the power play. I tried to get to the net and it was a great shot from the point,” said Army.
The Reign continued to tack on shots in the middle stanza, and scored again on a wrister from LoVerde unassisted at 2:22. The Gulls tried to get on the board with several shot opportunities of their own, but Budaj shined in the net, coming up with a critical save midway through the period when he stopped Brian McGrattan on a wraparound attempt.
“They have a really strong team and they play really hard,” said Budaj. “A win is a win and a shutout feels great. We kept going at them and it was a great team effort.”
At 16:46 of the same frame, Nic Dowd redirected Jonny Brodzinski’s pass from the left circle to beat Anton Khudobin (29 saves) for his fifth goal of the season.
Samuels-Thomas netted both of his goals in the third period with the first coming on the power play at 8:49. He buried his second marker, shorthanded, at 18:06 with help from Sean Backman and LoVerde to seal the victory for Ontario.