Ontario, CA – Forward Andrew Crescenzi scored a goal and tallied two assists as the Ontario Reign (3-1-0-0) powered past the San Jose Barracuda (1-3-0-0), 4-1, to take the best-of-five series, 3-1, Friday night at Citizens Business Bank Arena.
The Barracuda opened the first 20 minutes ready to play, applying pressure early on Reign netminder Peter Budaj. Despite early pressure, however, the Reign struck first when forward Nic Dowd knocked in a rebound after forward Sean Backman wacked it out in front at 9:12 of the frame. Defenseman Kevin Gravel picked up the secondary assist. Barracuda netminder Aaron Dell was sharp in the net, making 11 stops in the first period.
In the second stanza, San Jose did a better job of limiting traffic in front of Dell. The Barracuda pulled the contest even at 9:58 thanks to forward Jeremy Langlois. Not to be outdone, the Reign battled back peppering Dell with several shots throughout the period. At 13:12, Dell came up with save off a Michael Mersch shot, but Justin Auger was there to collect the rebound and roof it into the net for his first goal of the post season.
The Barracuda managed little offense against a stout Reign defense in the third period. On the offensive end, Ontario continued to pressure Dell any chance they could. Auger chased down a loose puck, fired a shot towards the net and forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas was there to sneak it past Dell at 15:33.
Dell’s most impressive save of the night came at 15:59 on a reactionary blocker save on Dowd from the slot. San Jose looked to create chances late in the frame, but Budaj turned away all six shots faced. With less than three minutes remaining, San Jose pulled Dell for the extra attacker, but it did not work in their favor. Defenseman Vincent LoVerde fed the puck to Crescenzi who scored the empty-netter to seal the deal for the Reign.
Budaj backstopped the win finishing with 18 saves on 19 attempts.
The Ontario Reign take on the San Diego Gulls in the best-of-seven Pacific Division Finals.
In the regular season, the Reign and Gulls battled 12 times, earning a 4-6-1-1 record. The Reign moved to the second round of the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs behind a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Barracuda in Game 4 Wednesday night to claim the best-of-five series 3-1. The Gulls advanced with a 6-2 win over the Texas Stars in Game 4 in San Diego.
2016 Calder Cup Playoff tickets are ON SALE NOW! Grab your favorite seats for all the hard-hitting postseason action as the Reign chase a Calder Cup Championship! Buy Tickets
Become a “Fan” of the Reign on Facebook at Facebook.com/OntarioReign, join the conversation on Twitter at Twitter.com/OntarioReign and follow us on Instagram at Instagram.com/OntarioReignHockey.